Organic gardening in my family isn’t new. I’ve been blessed to marry into a warm and loving Italian family where gardening has always been a way of life and indeed necessity.While my almost-eighty year old father-in-law these days gardens for the enjoyment and pleasure in providing fresh fruit and vegetables for his family, it was a different story when growing up in a family of ten in post-war southern Italy where it was a means for his family survival.
Many children of Italian immigrants have not followed the example of their parents and established backyard vegetable gardens. Somehow, people’s modern, busy lifestyles and access to good quality food supplies has gotten in the way. So, when my husband and I moved in to our new home and mentioned we had planted a vegetable garden, Nonno was up here in a flash (a 1200km return drive mind you!). As the first of his four children to show any interest in vegetable gardening, Nonno was only too pleased to be able to share his knowledge and help us get our shading ‘just right.’
That was four years ago and we’ve had season upon season of delicious, organic home-grown produce to enjoy and share with our friends and family. Nowadays, our garden is a source of constant joy and activity for our 22 month old son Matthew. Whenever we make the trip to Adelaide, we always visit Nonno and his garden to sample all the delicious treats on offer and learn as much as we can from Nonno’s lifetime of gardening experience.
It makes me proud that we’re continuing the family gardening tradition, and my son can grow up knowing where his vegetables come from and be involved in their production. It’s our small way of keeping Nonno’s gardening passion alive long after that day in the future when he’s no longer able to garden.
Here are some ideas for how you can make gardening an activity the different generations in your family can enjoy doing together:
- Set aside an area in your garden for the purpose of intergenerational gardening so everyone involved can contribute to the garden’s design and maintenance
- Visit a local nursery or garden centre together to choose seedlings, seeds and garden ornaments
- Schedule certain days and times for gardening together so both young and old can look forward to the activity
- Choose appropriate gardening tools which may include ergonomic tools for granddad and child-sized tools for the grandchildren
- Pick, cook and eat the harvest together so you can all enjoy the fruits of your labour.
About the Author: Laura Trotta is an eco mum, environmental engineer and founder of Sustainababy. With a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering, a Masters of Science in Environmental Chemistry, and over ten years working as an environmental engineer for large corporations, ‘eco’ has always been a way of life for Laura, rather than the latest trend. She lives in Roxby Downs with her husband Paul and son Matthew.