The Land Rover Owners Wife

My get up and go, got up and left

7 Comments

A selection of my home grown chillies drying.

A selection of my home grown chillies drying.

The more observant of you will have noticed that in recent weeks, there has been a distinct lack of posts relating to gardening. Naturally this time of the year sees a drop off in garden related activity, as crops come to the end of their cycle, the colder weather sets in and thoughts turn to garden maintenance and preparation for next season. But this year there is a much more prevalent factor behind my lack of posts, a sadness which has over come me, an over whelming sense of disappointment which has driven my ‘get up and go’ right out of the country, never mind the room.

So what has brought about this sense of disappointment and dismay?

Well first of all, over in my own garden, the poor showing of many of my favourite crops due in mixed measures to the prolonged humid spell which hit at a critical time and is, I am positive, the reason why flowers weren’t about or pollinated at that all important point in June when many plants start to set fruit, and also to the lack of nutrients in the beds. Obviously the first of these is beyond my control and must be accepted as just one of those things but the second is down to lack of planning and forethought on my side and will be rectified this autumn/winter with large quantities of topsoil and manure being added to the beds ….. once I’ve cleared them that is.

However, this is only part of the problem. The main cause for my negativity and lack of enthusiasm, can be placed squarely at the door of the school garden.

Three or four years ago, when I took on the role of Gardening Club co-ordinator, I did so because I believed strongly that teaching the children how to grow their own food was important and if that food could then be harvested and passed on to parents, staff and more importantly the kitchen that prepared the hot meals, then it was a worthwhile enterprise. The added bonus of potentially passing freshly harvested snacks into the classrooms, added to my enthusiasm and I ended up putting far more time into the garden than I ever intended to do but to me it was worth it.

The cob I saved for seeds has dried out nicely.

The cob I saved for seeds has dried out nicely.

As the years have come and gone I have faced an uphill battle getting the parents to take the fresh produce, for reasons that have, until recently, defeated me. Then a couple of months ago, a parent confided that part of the problem is that parents are wondering how many pairs of little hands have handled the produce before it comes onto the playground. I was perplexed until it was further explained to me that the possibility of germs was the issue!

Firstly you have to understand that my band of gardeners always wear gloves unless that is they are handling seeds and generally speaking, they each pull or pick their item and then it is placed into a basket for me to wash and sort out. Germs are not an issue and to be absolutely frank, when you consider how many pairs of germ ridden hands have potentially touched the produce in your local supermarket before you buy it, the concern over the organically grown school veg is totally mystifying to me and is, in my opinion, without any substance whatsoever!

That said, if this is a genuine concern I need to address it and so after some thought, came up with what I think may well be a suitable solution – ‘pick your own vegetables’. Next season, a letter will go out on a Friday informing parents what should be available to pick the following week and then they would be invited to come and pick their own vegetables, with their child, on a first come first served basis. This would, I hope, negate the concern over handling and encourage a bit more interest in the vegetable plot.

Deflated though I was by this revelation, I remained fairly upbeat because at least I could send the vegetables to the kitchens to be prepared and returned as part of the hot meals. Then this term we changed suppliers and it was the knock on effects of the new supplier that knocked me for six and has left me feeling totally disillusioned, disheartened and seriously debating whether or not it is worth carrying on with the garden!

The new supplier will not take any of the food from the vegetable patch!

I was stunned and really very upset and angry about this. The whole point of the vegetable patch in the first place was, I thought, to grow food with the children and then to get them to eat it. But no, apparently if we were to supply fresh vegetables from the school garden the supplier would have to treat it the same way they would fresh meat.

A mixed saucer of seeds saved and drying out for next season

A mixed saucer of seeds saved and drying out for next season

It is fair to say that the wind has been well and truly knocked out of me and with cabbages, carrots and parsnips still in the beds, the future of the garden has been hanging in the balance for the last few weeks. It is hard to find enthusiasm for something when you appear to be the only person who actually appreciates the potential benefits. Even my own garden has not been the solace I would have hoped for and has failed to pull me out of the doldrums.

However, I refuse to allow the negativity of others to keep me down for long and this week I plan to start clearing my garden ready for enriching and then in the next week or so the school garden will receive the same treatment. The children in gardening club really appreciate the garden and hopefully the new ‘Pick your own’ scheme will motivate some of the parents to partake of the produce, grown and lovingly tended by the children. If not, then I’ll have to seriously rethink the viability of the vegetable patch and the amount of time I and the children, invest in it.

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7 thoughts on “My get up and go, got up and left

  1. Hello! Those pictures are glorious. The bottom one looks like a plate of tapas! And is that Denby I recognise?! I have the pale blue one. 😊
    I’m not at all surprised you’re fed up. Parents seem to accept things made in Home Ec (or whatever it’s called these days) happily and they have no idea if it’s been on the floor or if the kid has washed their hands, so that attitude is LUDICROUS. Have you considered it’s possible that the parents don’t buy the veggies you’re growing or if they do might buy them ready prepared? Ooh reading this made my ears steam!
    As for the school dinner suppliers, there is possibly an issue in that the school should have told the supplier during negotiations that this was part of the deal – so some of the blame could sit with the school/ governors.
    Have you considered donating some to your local old people’s home or possibly becoming a supplier to the local veg box company?
    Wish you lived near us! The school where I’m CoG would 💚 having a green fingered person to work on the school veg patch. But then, we’re SEN so we have chickens too. 😃

    • Hi Claire,

      Yes it is Denby and the colour is Greenwich. Well spotted 🙂

      Thank you for your words of support. To be fair to the Governing body, I don’t think the notion that the veg couldn’t be used by the new supplier even entered their heads. It certainly didn’t occur to me which is why it was such a body blow I think.

      We have given vegetables to the pensioners in the village over the last few summers and this was generally carried out by the church wardens but as these ladies are very busy and not exactly in the first flush of youth these days, they didn’t feel up to delivering the produce this year. There are monthly community Sunday Roasts served in the village hall throughout the autumn/winter and I have made contact with a view to sending what’s still growing to them for the next one. The veg box suggestion is a good one , thank you, which I will look into. It’s just frustrating that we can’t use homegrown, zero miles produce to feed the children who helped grow it! ;(

      Chickens? In a school? Wow that would be cool. We had a celebration day a couple of years ago to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the school and a couple of the senior citizens who came back to visit informed me that where our poly tunnel currently is used to be the school pig sty 🙂

  2. Hi Elaine. That is crazy. Food grows in dirt for goodness sake! Dirt is seen as dirty and not associated with food with those who have lost the connection with where their food comes from. If it’s not wrapped in plastic after being soaked in chlorine first then it is not fit for consumption. With no thought as to the previous generations that survived without having their food interfered with. Maybe you could put a price on the vege, because there is a perception that you can’t sell stuff that hasn’t been ‘approved’ in some way by someone and so if you are expecting money for it then it must be ok. People must be suspicious of ‘free” as in ‘what’s wrong with it?’ By selling it you could work this for your favour and make money for school for seeds and fertiliser. Maybe even a notice in the community that there is great vege available – you may find a more appreciative market. Our postman will deliver flyers if you ask nicely (and give him some beer for his troubles). Insane! I wish you all the luck with this uphill battle. NZ has a Garden to Table program that offers a format and structure to growing veggies in schools and what happens to them. It legitimizes it as a school activiity. Our school has a small garden and chickens.

    As for your garden – there is always the official gardeners mantra: There is always next season. I am already starting to feel that way and summer hasn’t started yet! The spring has been terrible. If you have to clear it all out – why not start all over again – in the cold months, redesign the layout, move things to better locations if they keep falling. Look at it with a fresh eye, get excited again and hand Mud a shovel!

    I hope things get better for you soon. All the best.
    Cheers Sarah : o ) xxx

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for your words of encouragement and support. I heartily wish that we had a legitimate Government school veg program over here. it’s funny about the concept of ‘free’ stuff isn’t and oddly enough you aren’t the only person who has suggested that by actually pricing the produce up rather than offering it on a donations basis, might improve the uptake. I’m going to have a look at the produce still in the beds tomorrow and see what is ready to harvest, draw up a price list and then try and get the parents to buy what there is for a set amount of money. Wish me luck 😉

  3. What a bummer. A friend tells the story often of a woman she worked with, who wouldn’t give her children anything that had been grown in the ground because of “germs” from the dirt. Above ground was fine, but not below. So no potatoes, chips, carrots … Absolutely mindless.
    I hate this disassociation between the food we eat and how it’s produced and find the parents’ attitudes untterly incomprehensible. I have a little more understanding of the kitchen suppliers given the many rules and regulations that we as growers and they as processors have to comply with. Not that I completely agree with them, but when they have to provide traceability from field to plate with all the boxes ticked for every bloody rule they have to cover their own backs.
    I hope you don’t give up the garden because it sounds an excellent project. I agree with Sarah that charging a small amount might put a value on it, especially if the money is going to a specific fund. Maybe the pick your own will work. good luck.

    • Hi Anne,

      Thanks for your encouragement 🙂

      I do take on board your comments in respect of the regulations for the kitchen but what I don’t understand is how come the previous supplier was able to use the stuff (even if they did cook it to within an inch of its’ life) and yet the new supplier claims regulations won’t permit them to use the produce. It’s so frustrating, not to mention confusing.

      • “The regulations won’t let me do it guv” – THE excuse of the modern age. It’s an easy cop out isn’t it? They could use the veg but they’d probably have to do a risk analysis and all sorts so it’s easier to just say no.

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