What would a freezing cold January day, (6 hours outside…) working with a group of young people who aren’t in education, employment or training look like? This was Friday.
I regularly work with groups of young people in North Solihull on community gardening projects, teaching basic gardening and growing skills, but most importantly, getting everyone involved and doing it for themselves.
It can be a little frustrating, the thought of dirt in their acrylic nails and that it’s not cool and pointless seem to be overriding thoughts, but once overcome, they get stuck in. It’s extremely rewarding to see how much can be learnt skills wise and in wellbeing through spending time outdoors in the garden, working the ground and providing for yourself and the community.
The "I can do it" attitude sets in and they are eager for new challenges, more responsibility and we can achieve an incredible amount as a team.
A day which starts off well below zero can be off putting for the most hardy individual, of which I would not class myself! Wrapped up in as many layers as I could manage, 6 hours outside seemed a daunting space to fill.
With the ground too hard to dig, most of the winter tidying tasks already carried out, I turned my mind to cooking. What could we cook out in the garden without the warmth and gadgets of a fully equipped kitchen? What is going to be of interest and use to a group of 16-19 year olds?
With my pop up equipment we assembled a small soup making station and with the earth oven in the community garden we had all we needed to make some delicious fresh bread to go with it.
The group had never made a bread dough before and were honest in saying what was the point when you can get bread from the supermarket? It’s a fair question when you are thinking about convenience – time, effort and a good introduction into what actually goes into the food we buy from the shops, the added artificial ingredients to preserve food.
Deciding it was worth trying (success) I quickly realised that we had to have a basic introduction of baking, covering the essentials of how to weigh out, what the ingredients gave to the recipe and how they worked e.g yeast. Enforcing all the more that we need to address cooking with children from an early age, making it fun, informative and worthwhile to share in.