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Is there a ‘lost generation’ of gardeners?

Girl pulling up a carrot

Today’s thirty-somethings are a lost generation of gardeners, says a report. So are they catching up for lost time or being overtaken by kids who are learning more about growing fruit and veg then they ever have?

When I took my nephew to my allotment the other day, he expertly harvested a courgette by twisting it off at its base. He told me he’d learnt how to do it in pre-school.

I doubt I’d have known what a courgette was at the age of five, let alone been able to harvest one. A tour of my allotment revealed that Joe could identify most of the stuff on it (although getting him to eat any of it is another story). I was impressed.

Did thirty-somethings miss out?

It turns out that Joe is pretty representative of his generation. A survey by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has found that many of today’s children are being taught gardening at school – as their grandparents were before them. Today’s parents, however, were not. The RHS calls them a ‘lost generation’ of gardeners.

Sue Biggs, Director General of the RHS, says:

‘These findings suggest that today’s parents, who attended school during the 1980s and 1990s, missed out on a huge opportunity. When children learn to garden it is a skill that stays with them for life. This is evident from the grandparents we surveyed, among whom nearly 80% say they like to garden, and more than a third grow their own fruit and vegetables.’

I am entirely representative of my generation in that I didn’t get taught gardening at school. My mum and granddad were green-fingered but I couldn’t think of anything worse than being dragged around a garden centre.

I didn’t know anything about gardening until the age of about 30, when I finally got my own place. Then, of course, I suddenly wished I’d paid attention to what my mum and granddad were up to. I studied horticulture for a few years to catch up and now I’m a gardening fanatic.

Learning to love the outdoors

I’d say my friends fall into two camps. Some love gardening and are expert veg growers; others aren’t interested at all and just want to ‘control’ their gardens, reaching readily for sprays and looking for ‘quick fix’ solutions.

However much we know about gardening, though, I’d say we all have happy memories of spending time outdoors. I do worry about today’s kids a bit – they might be learning gardening at school, but can they practise it at home?

And when they’re older, will they have an opportunity to exercise their green fingers? Gardens are getting smaller and allotment plots are scarce, and that’s a trend that is surely set to continue.

Were you taught gardening at school? Do you think learning at a young age guarantees a love of gardening?