Talking to the teens
I have been a keen gardener for most of my life, from ‘helping’ mum, dad and grandparents to my first home and now my family home. The only time I lost the love of gardening was in my teenage years when I disappeared to my bedroom to listen to music. My daughter has now gone to her room, instead of Guns and Roses it’s Stormzy but there is one big difference and it’s not the introduction of wi-fi.
Last week, after running out of cups, I dared to enter her room. She now has a floordrobe, a mountain of crockery and posters of whoever is this weeks favourite popstar, but what never fails to surprise me is she has plants, and lots of them.
The reason, she tells me is that they are good for her, clean the air, she really doesn’t want the planet to die, another reason is she take pictures of them, her Instagram account is full of these photos. Pictures of the cacti she bought after doing about adaptation in science, the rainforest biome she planted for Geography, she is a geek, and she is proud of that, she doesn’t just want to grow and photograph plants, she wants to know there origin, there history. I ask her what her friends think of this hobby and they are all doing it as well, this is meant to be a generation addicted to gaming – not horticulture!
When I think if children’s gardening I think of all of the primary colours, the funny cartoon plants, the sunflowers and tomatoes with smiley faces. After that though there is nothing, straight into the adult world, nothing for our teens who will be the gardeners of the future.
This group have been more assessed and tested than any other, more pressure is put on them to achieve at a younger age than ever before. They care passionately about the planet and green issues, and they worry about the future. Teens are heavily influenced by apps such as Instagram and this has been on the whole the reason for this trend.
To keep teens interested we need to learn how to talk to them. Try to be cool, and they will spot it a mile off, but if we can understand this is the generation that have only ever know social media, that care deeply about pollution, that will take endless selfies, and will explain to you, whilst rolling their eyes, that the prickly part of the cactus are spines, not spikes, then maybe they could become gardeners for life.