It must be well over a year since I first sent a draft of my story for primary school children, Rosie gets the Plot, to my agent, for some feedback about this story about sibling rivalry – and how the parents use gardening to get their older child, Rosie, to accept the new arrival, baby Robin. Cue a growing season full of challenges (for both her garden and the baby) and a wonderful harvest.
It hasn’t made it to a picture book yet, but it has been transformed into a lovely pilot show on gardening and eating healthily for schools – which starts a mini tour in North London next week. Thanks to the brilliant Slavka from Little Angel Theatre, who spent months devising the show and fundraising, and Tam Tam Theatre, who have developed the idea, it will now go around schools, communicating the great fun that children can have gardening. It’s not a very serious show, but we worked hard to make her gardening believable – like many kids in central London, Rosie only has a balcony on which to grow her first few plants – and she encounters all sorts of problems on the way. A crawling Robin doesn’t exactly help, and nor does a bird and other pests – all part of the joy of gardening.
Tam Tam Theatre, with its lovely crew (Marleen, the director, Laura and Thierry, the actors/puppeteers, Katherine the puppet maker and Karen, the student puppeteer) transformed my words into puppet magic. The children (at Vittoria Primary School) seemed to love the run-through and were clearly delighted to eat Rosie’s carrots at the end and stroke the baby’s head. And hopefully they know a tiny bit more about gardening now (each show is backed up with workshops on eating and growing in season and food miles).
Let’s just hope we can get some more funding to send this round more schools – after some years of campaigning for better food in schools (as a journalist) it’s great to come back and build on all the work so many activists have done on food, and help promote the next important thing – teaching children to grow (and then eat) good food.
As we say at the end of the show: “We’ve grown our veg/Upon our plot/Now it’s time/To eat the lot!”