‘Tell me what you think of this soil?’ was my question as the gardening group heaped more from the bucket into the crate.

‘Well, it smells nice…’ said one voice in the crowd.

‘And it is soft?’ piped in another.

‘Hmm… and do you know where this soil comes from?’ The BIG question. I was not expecting them to believe me anyway.

‘From the ground’. Typical, I mused.

‘It’s from the garden shop’, replied two girls in cheery unison.

‘Do you remember all those apples, pears and bananas we ate last year?’ I quizzed them while scooping more soil into the holes dug by the group to even out the spread.

‘Yeah!’

‘Well, what did we do with all the peels, cores and uneaten fruit?’

‘It went into the caddy and I helped carry it to the compost bin’. This correct response jolted everyone’s memory, animating a discussion about who ate what and who, in their opinion, was the worst offender for not eating all their snack.

‘Why did we put all of that food into the compost bin in the first place and not the class bin?

‘To make compost’, came the reply.

‘And this is it!’ I yelped! ‘All turned into beautiful soil for us to plant our vegetables’.

The look of astonishment was an unforgettable moment. It took a bit of convincing that old fruit could become compost, however, the presence of two seven year old garderners who had actually helped to empty the bin finally reassured everyone that this was all true.

Their verdict?

‘Smelly, fun and…useful!’

And in went the lettuce and Japanese onions.

Gardening can be kept very simple with short sessions with young children. It can add real cultural capital informally, enhancing their understanding of plant growth, recycling and sustainability.