The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are reminding people of the benefits of children getting their hands dirty this autumn, with gardening known to deliver health, wellbeing and environmental benefits.
The end of summer shouldn’t mean a return to predominantly indoor activities the charity says. Recent research demonstrates the positive impact of outdoor learning and play on health and wellbeing, as exposure to the good bacteria in the natural environment is found to support the immune system.1
The last 18 months has, for many, brought restrictions on access to outdoor space and connecting with others, but now, more than ever, gardens can support young people’s development. Four in five schools previously surveyed by the RHS felt that gardening had improved the mental and physical wellbeing of pupils while nine in ten said it had helped young people develop a wide range of skills.2
Autumn is an ideal time to get gardening with a huge range of activities, no matter the size plot, to keep children entertained. Those recommended by the RHS this season include:
- Conducting a simple, and messy, sensory test to work out what type of soil you have and what will grow in it best
- Sowing hardy onions, spinach and beans this autumn ready for harvesting early spring
- Making a mini wormery by learning where worms like to live and their importance for healthy soil and plants
- Conducting a treasure hunt for items that can be built into a bug hotel that will attract wildlife onto your plot.
- Collecting this year’s seeds from spent chard, lettuce and sunflowers ready to grow next year
For more gardening activity cards and advice on starting a school garden or gardening club visit www.schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/home.
Andrea Van Sittart, Head of Outreach Development at the RHS, said: “Many of the schools, groups and families that we work with are eking out every last inch of space to get children learning and playing outdoors. From fruit-bearing baskets on balconies ripe for the picking to make-shift mud kitchens using old pots and pans, gardening provides so many opportunities to teach, calm and inspire.”
About the RHS Campaign for School Gardening
The RHS School Gardeners of the Year competition is part of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, which actively involves over 40,000 schools and groups across the UK in growing and gardening. Children are taught about plants and gardening and their environment.
Through gardening they learn about healthy fruit and vegetables, wildlife and important life skills such as teamwork, social skills and co-operation. Using an outdoor classroom where children can learn in a fun, engaging way provides huge benefits. Information, lesson plans and advice for schools is provided online and is backed up by support from the RHS Education team and RHS Campaign for School Gardening Regional Advisors.
Schools and youth organisations can sign up to RHS Campaign for School Gardening online: https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk
- Roslund, M. I., et al. (2020), Biodiversity intervention enhances immune regulation and health-associated commensal microbiota among daycare children. Science Advances, 6(42), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aba2578
- 873 Campaign for School Gardening groups were surveyed in 2017 re their garden and the perceived benefits for young people.