Natalie says the workshops foster a sense of connectedness for children - with each other, with their families and with the earth.
“Understanding where ‘real food’ comes from, and the ability to grow our own food, is essential to the health of our children and the health of our beautiful planet.
“We all know that kids learn by 'doing', so what better way to show them how easy it is to grow healthy, delicious food, than to get them doing it themselves.
“Being a teacher for so long my experience is storytelling with children and providing language experiences in all different ways and all different learning styles. This led to an interest in children’s books and the types of language and rhythm that can be used to develop learning.
“The books evolved from the Spit the Pip workshops. Within the workshops I’m conscious of children learning in different ways, lots of different experiences, lots of sensory experiences, storytelling, dramatic re-enactment, observation, hands on learning, and the storytelling element to reinforce those same concepts. They’re all part of the approach providing learning for different children in different ways.
“Seed Magic was the first book in The Spider Series. Bizz Buzz Boss is the second and the third one is due in 2020 and will be called A Web for All Seasons.
Linking nutrition with health
Natalie says her own transformation from suburban lifestyle to rural property owner was a significant learning curve, but introducing children to the concept of food production was simply a natural progression.
“I had a very suburban experience as a child. We didn’t grow our own food. It wasn’t something that came naturally. Coming to it as an adult was a bit of a joy really,” she says.
“Discovering and starting to link up nutrition and health and being part of the environment and contributing to the production of food and seeing those things interwoven and essentially part of physical and mental health - it made sense to see a child have those experiences.
“Without hands-on experience we can miss the links in natural cycles. You might be eating healthy food but you miss the links being part of growing the food and eating the food.
“I saw how my children were immersed in that experience it was something that I couldn’t let go of.
“I could see how becoming immersed in nature and growing their own food were so important for children all round. With my experience in education it was like a natural progression and making that experience available to others made sense to me.”
Natalie says that at both the school and preschool workshops, children are encouraged to look at real food and plants.
“We have the real thing there and we encourage children to look at them in different ways, talk about the colour shapes and sizes.
“We encourage them to smell or taste them and often we find that the children are much more prepared to try something they haven’t tried before and might refuse to eat at home which is quite nice.
“I have had a couple of schools request taste testing and it’s interesting to see some kids say ‘yuck’ before they’ve even tried it.
“That’s then an opportunity to talk to them about how that’s okay, but that they might feel differently in a couple of years and letting them know that their tastes might change.
“There’s a lot of storytelling and props and group discussion.
“Children in all of our workshops are encouraged to contribute. There are no wrong answers. It’s about building trust with children and getting them to contribute their ideas.
“The experiences of the children are so varied. Some come from backgrounds where nanna has a farm and some have none at all. We are simply building on their experiences whatever that may be.”