Tag Archive | earth

How do you appreciate your daily bread?

This isn’t a religious post. I’m in no way religious.

But the thought came to me as I did my daily walk how important is the consideration of it.

As I walk round the corn and vegetable fields, past cows and trees, plants and birds and the tiniest of living things I cannot even see, I ponder upon how essential to our daily bread it all is, especially the land beneath and how everything plays a part in providing the food we eat.

At the moment my daily exercise includes many of these rural elements described above, along with some rather battering weather at times. But I actually grew up in the city, have spent much time there and am likely to be moving less rurally sometime soon.

And it is when my feet are on those urban pavements, about as far removed from the earth as it’s possible to get, that reminds me how difficult it must be to educate children about the importance of the land that’s buried deep beneath, of species, of nature. For even though most children may not have it in their daily round as I do, they need to understand that it is as vital to their existence as the air they breathe.

It is, after all, what gives them their daily bread. It doesn’t just grow in Asda!

Last season’s harvest which made our daily bread

There’s been a major shift over my lifetime. When I was very young the largest part of the population lived and worked rurally, so more people had the land in their consciousness. Now that’s shifted to the largest proportion of people living in towns and cities.

Along with that shift there’s also been a shift in attitudes, in politics, in awareness. Most people are now just aware of the countryside as recreation, oblivious to its essentiality. Oblivious to the fact that the land and the species it supports, supports our life as well, gives us our daily bread and our daily breath too.

And somehow we have to get the seriousness of that concept into children’s education even when they are as far removed from it as many are.

So how do you educate about and look after the land from the city?

You do that through your lifestyle because even though you may be miles from it, your habits have an impact on the land.

There are regular reminders in the media and sites like ‘Sustainable-ish’ of things you can do – and not do – to look after the earth.

But essentially discuss with your children and focus on a lifestyle that prioritises:

  • Limiting your consumption of disposable stuff (consumerism creates landfill)
  • Shopping second hand
  • Travelling with conscience
  • Decreasing the chemicals used round the home (be aware of your cleaning products)
  • Being careful with what you put down the drains (odd I know but contaminates water and land)
  • Always minimising your waste (think before you buy)
  • Avoiding plastic as much as possible
  • Making changes however small
  • Making sure the kids get contact with the working land not just parks
  • Talking all the time about the reasons behind your lifestyle choices
  • Living the idea that more stuff doesn’t equal more happiness!

Never forget that the land, the countryside, the birds and the bees are not just for fun. They are for real, the reality of life and health and sustenance – yours and mine.

We depend on all of it for our daily bread.

I thought maybe it’s a good time of year to reflect on that!

My pre-Christmas plea

Is it not all too over-the-top?

I love Christmas.

It means the family are together again.

There’ll be love, warmth, cameraderie, jokes, fun, probably a few irritations and a little bit of power struggling in the kitchen no doubt! Soon resolved as the tensions of being together again after living independent lives slip away and bonds refresh and regroup.

But I also can’t help cringing every year at the prospect of the burden the earth has to bear as a consequence of our festivities.

When I start a bit of shopping – and compared to most it is only a bit, I get immensely anxious at the quantities of packaging, plastic, lights and useless tat I see in vulgar quantities for people to buy, and the equally vulgar attitudes with which people disregard the consequence of doing so.

I don’t want to be a humbug here. I also like to wrap, decorate and buy. But each year the consumerism seems more over-the-top than the year before and I have a very real sense of the earth groaning under the strain of it.

So this is a plea. Can you think about that and practise moderation as you buy trimmings and wrappings and disposables?

Please, please, please create Christmas traditions in your family that incorporate habits which consider the earth as much as the people on it.

Make love of the earth an important part of your Christmas preperations!

An imperative lesson

Some are starting work out there, even before it’s light

It is beautifully quiet where we live now. So quiet you notice the slightest noise; a fox’s bark, an alarmed pheasant, or the tiny scamperings of the mouse who has found its way into the roof space above the ceiling.

So we’re really sensitive to the rumblings of heavy machinery past the cottage at 5am.

The vegetable cutters start early. Some work through the night. I’m woken by the clanking of the rigs and trailers. I also have a sudden sense of gratitude that it’s not me turning out in the freezing cold and rain that I hear hammering down.

The gangs of workers are dropped off for their working day in dark, cold, muddy conditions, no shelter, no heat, cutting the cauliflower and broccoli that’ll be ready for you in the supermarket later today.

Surrounded by growing food, it was easy for our home educating children to learn where food comes from and what’s required for it to grow, that this doesn’t happen in super markets, but out on the earth.

And that it needs certain conditions; dependent on the elements of the earth. And it’s important that we all know how those elements are sustainable – if we want food to be sustained that is!

Stuck in a city centre, as far removed from the earth as I am from the Houses of Parliament, I worry that this essential part of education will be neglected. And families these days might not want contact with the earth and the elements, cosied as city dwellers are by the convenience of pavements, transport, concrete, shopping under cover and easily accessible eats!

So how to get across the importance of understanding the precious resource that the planet is – the only resource actually, for everything comes back to what it gives us – and how not to pollute it so much?

We need to learn to exist without creating the waste our lifestyles produce; by not subscribing to the hypocritical politics that ignores the real issue of consumerism, not be seduced by the commercial hype that continues to suggest that it’s okay to keep buying plastic bottles, disposables in any form, pollutive cleaners like wipes and chemicals. And remember that all our consumerism wounds the planet, contaminates the place we’re dependent on for our food.

Part of any child’s education should be to understand this stuff. Part of our duties as educators is to prioritise this understanding – to get kids back to the earth and caring for it as part of their everyday existence. Along with the simple idea that everything manmade that we buy will eventually pollute in some way, or has already done so in the manufacturing of it and that might come back to haunt us through the food chain (one example here)

A sombre lesson – worth the learning.

What small change can you and the kids make to your family lifestyle to stop your contribution to it? (Here’s an inspiring contribution from one family)

Learn to love the earth, buy less plastic for a start!