Allotment experience helps children to thrive

Childminder Heather Paterson’s interest in the outdoors is having multiple benefits for the children under her care and has seen her make a positive impact in the local community.

Heather, who is based in Airdrie, has created an allotment which has allowed her to introduce the eight youngsters in her charge to the idea of growing fruit and vegetables. It’s a topic they’ve taken to with real enthusiasm.

Sowing seeds and seeing
vegetables grow gives the
children a great sense of
achievement

She said: “We are in an urban area where many of the children think that fruit and veg comes from the supermarket or shop. I show them how to plant seeds, bring them on, what the seeds need to grow and the end results. They get a great sense of achievement from seeing the process from start to finish and ending up with a crop of strawberries, potatoes, carrots, turnips, peas and so on.”

Her own garden has limited space which is dedicated to play areas for the children. Therefore, around three years ago she and a few neighbours petitioned the local council to create allotments on a patch of waste ground in the park immediately behind her home.

“My passion for growing rubs off on the kids, who are amazed even by simple plants such as cress, which can grow within a week. When the fruit and veg is ready they take it home, we make it into meals or feed it to our rabbit.”

As well as getting an appreciation of the natural world, the experience helps encourage healthy eating among the children. “It makes them more inquisitive and they are eager to try fruit and veg they’ve not eaten before,” said Heather.

Her approach has helped Heather achieve excellent grades during her most recent inspection. “I’m really pleased with that, but the aim has never been to get high ratings, it has always been about educating and encouraging the children.”