3 June 2007

I wish it hadn't changed

It’s a sad fact that in the last century we’ve gone from being a nation of backyard food gardeners to a society with huge debt and houses that run almost to the boundary fence to maximise indoor space, at the expense of outdoor gardens. When I was a child, the kids in our neighbourhood played together, formed cricket and netball teams, climbed mulberry trees to get leaves for our silk worms and watched as heads were chopped in the chook house to provide a special lunch. Now the streets are empty, no one is forming teams and computer games are controlling the head chopping.

We are separated from our food now. Many people are happier to eat a burger of unidentifiable meat, soggy lettuce and “dressing” than they are eating a fresh backyard tomato that’s had a bug on it. People like their food to be sealed up and sterile.

In many respects we are separating ourselves and our kids from nature. Things common in the past are no longer taught – constructing and flying kites, knitting, camping out, flower and leaf pressing, collecting eggs, bird watching, growing sprouts, looking at the stars at night, spotlighting possums and a hundred other things are rare rather than common now.

I wish it hadn’t changed.

In my endeavour to change what I can change, I tell everyone who stands still long enough in my real life about how to make their own laundry detergent. If they ask, I’ll tell then how to make lemon cordial, jam and soap. When I knit in public, I’m amazed at how many people watch me. Sometimes a quick demonstration is carried out. We need to teach each other whatever we can so these skills aren’t lost.

Is anyone else doing this? Are you trying to teach what you know?


  1. I grew up the same way. I lived in th suburbs and we played in the street and had a small garden. Now when I drive through town, I see very few kids out playing, and hardly any gardens in the yards I can see. People are pariniod and don't have the time.

    As for teaching people what I know, I think I teach them more about what not to do. :D

  2. I try to teach people what I'm learning, but most of the time I'm regarded as....off. People in my family call me "Amish" (why that is supposed to be such a bad thing I'll never quite understand.) But recently my sister has become interested in the changes in my life and has made some of her own and plans to continue and she in turn as changed her husbands and her best friends view of the world. And while my parents remain skeptical, they show at least some curiousity about what I do in my life, how I make such and such homemade, etc... and all I can do is hope something is sinking in. And then there are my little ones. I am teaching them everything as I go, I want them to know how to be self-sufficient. I'm not sure what the future holds for them, but they'll have a set of life skills very few of their generation will have. All I can hope is that they share what they know as well. Thank you for sharing what you know, we are listening! :)

  3. phelan, you're teaching as you go. I've read your blog, that, my friend, is teaching.

    farm mom
    you are giving your children a great gift - that of choice. They may not follow your simple steps, but you've given them the option to because of what you're teaching them.


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