After success in bringing gardening into 19,000 primary schools through the Royal Horticultural Society’s Campaign for School Gardening, he now wants to see that extended to secondary schools.
Alan said: “We need to understand this disconnect and make them enjoy gardening and be less fearful of it. I think it’s vital. I think it should be on the national curriculum. It would be bonkers to say you don’t need to understand nature, so let’s get it into our schools.”
Alan, who is now presenting Love Your Garden on ITV1 and is also Waitrose gardening ambassador, says a back to basics approach to gardening and a revival of campaigns to get more children growing are essential to make horticulture as popular as it was when he attracting 12 million viewers a show to BBC1’s Ground Force, 15 years ago.
The popular presenter, 66, says opening people’s eyes to how simple gardening can be “is the important thing” but “the big issue is not to browbeat them but to engage them. That’s where Ground Force was a success because it combined entertainment with information and infotainment – that dreadful world – and children watched it too. These are now people in their twenties and thirties and they say Ground Force made them less fearful of the garden. And if you just cross that Rubicon you can pick up from that.”
Former Blue Peter TV gardener Chris Collins, who designed a garden featuring cartoon character Henri Le Worm at the recent RHS Hampton Court Flower Show to promote growing and cooking food in the garden, agrees that gardening for children needs to rise back up the agenda.
He said: “On the ground, children’s gardening is very healthy, but whether it gets the publicity it deserves I don’t know. In 2008 at Chelsea Flower Show everybody was talking about kids’ gardening but now it’s dropped off the radar. But there’s lots of people on the ground fighting for it.”
The Henri Le Worm garden from Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, has been relocated at Woodlands Farm, Shooters Hill, London after the show.
School holiday ideas and activities
Gardening and nature-based adventures are a great way to keep the kids occupied in the summer. Utilise online resources for ideas and inspiration.
The RHS Campaign for School Gardening has links to hundreds of resources and activities that can be adapted for use in the summer holidays.
The Henri le Worm website features games, clips, recipes and gardening ideas.