Children and nature – it’s a special kind of thing…

“It is a priority in our family that we play outside no matter the weather, the kids ride their bikes and help us work,” says Kristy Novak from Soho Rose Farm in Dean, Victoria, Australia.

“They see lambs and calves birthed, crops sowed and roses harvested.  To see them being able to connect and grow through each season brings us so much happiness but also makes me even more aware of how much we need to protect the natural world for them and their children.”

Kristy from Soho Rose Farm other two girls. Image: Angie Hay

We asked four mums who work with flowers, and on farms, in different parts of Australia about what it gives their kids, and what in turn that brings them.

While it’s proven that a connection to nature is beneficial for children research shows links to gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, creativity, problem solving, intellectual development and overall wellbeing – there are a multitude of benefits going on when kids and nature collide; for themselves, the adults around them and for the future of our planet.

This post is a wonderful insight into life on a flower farm with kids. As well as this, it is an urgent reminder of how essential a connection to nature is for our mental health and our survival on this planet. Deep and serious I know, and I know I’m talking to a bunch of nature lovers but rather important don’t you think?

“Despite being a botanist and a keen gardener, becoming a mother to our twin girls has certainly heightened my appreciation of the beauty to be found in our garden and everyday life.”

Marian from the Hut Flower Farm, Tasmania, Australia.
Marian and her two daughters, Maggie and Elisabeth – 6 year old twins.

“ Maggie and Elisabeth adore the brightest blooms in the field, vibrant yellows and reds are their favourite colours.

“Some of their happiest moments on the farm are when I deadhead all the bruised, imperfect flowers into a basket and let them create something with them. To me those flowers are compost, but to them they are the perfect medium for creating a work of art,” Marian says.

Sophie, a flower farmer and florist from Little Triffids Flowers in North Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia often has her son Eddie to help her and business partner Bethany.

“I love that Eddie calls himself a flower farmer and he has a thoughtful and poignant sense of the cycle of life. My work with flowers and the garden makes me a more patient and less stressed out woman which I 100% know makes me a better mum!” Sophie says.

“Flower farming and parenting both teach you (or force you!) to slow down and bask in the moment.”

Sophie from Little Triffids Flower Farm, North Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia

“Eddie has been with me my whole journey in this business – I started Little Triffids when preparing to go on maternity leave, so these two parts of my life are intertwined. 

“In the early days taking him outside was a sure way to soothe him, and likewise being in my garden soothes me. As he’s grown into a rambunctious little boy he has taught me to appreciate the wonder and curiosity that is creepy crawlies, I’ve learnt to approach mundane tasks with enthusiasm “Yeah lets get that weed!!”, and I’ve appreciated and pondered the “Why’s” of the world a lot more. 

Annabelle Hickson lives on a Pecan Farm in NSW, and is known for her wild and wonderful floral arrangements, often working with her kids in tow.

Annabelle Hickson in kitchen with kids
Annabelle Hickson and her kids around the kitchen table.
Image credit: Pip Williams from The Real Deal Photograhy

“Instead of me teaching them about flowers and flower arranging, they teach me. It’s not the words we use or even the arrangements we make that matter. It’s just simply being part of the natural world around us and enjoying what it has to offer – that is where the satisfaction lies,” Annabelle says.

Kristy from Soho Rose Farm remembers her own childhood:

“Growing up as a child in country Queensland and playing outside all day, everyday ,my life was deeply connected to nature and the seasons,” Kristy recalls.

“My own childhood is filled with memories of running through dry dusty paddocks, riding bikes through over flowing creeks in the rain and pressing flowers in books. My siblings, cousins and I played in a garden wonderland at our Grandma’s house.

“Having a connection to our environment is something I really want my children to value and respect.”

Kristy, Soho Rose Farm, Dean, Victoria, Australia. Image: Angie Hay

“We had full rein to make and play anything we liked in our cubby, treehouses, backyards, paddocks…it was imaginative, free and gave us the space to learn skills we didn’t even know we were learning.

“Being farmers we tend to always be at work in some way, there is never not work to be done and you can get caught up in that. I love working with my children along side me, they make potpourri with our left over roses, fill up buckets and chatter about their very big business plans. They make pretty little arrangements with foraged bits and the roses that haven’t made the cut to go to market, they don’t over think it, they just pick the colours they love, and it is pure joy for me to watch!” Kristy says.

Having them around reminds me to stop and enjoy the beauty in what we do and what is around us and in turn I hope that I am teaching them value lessons in achieving and working to your goals.”

Kristy, Soho Rose Farm, Dean, Victoria. Image: Angie Hay

The juggle of farming, running a business and raising the next generation is real but as Marian from The Hut Flower Farm describes, it’s oh so worth it.

“Part of my motivation for starting our flower farm was to demonstrate to our daughters the strength it takes to follow a dream, the passion needed to do it well, and the satisfaction of seeing your vision become a reality.

“There are certainly challenges. Like many of the female flower farmers I follow on Instagram, I have several balls up in the air. Working hard, being creative, finding beauty in the everyday, keeping healthy, juggling work (a desk job as well as the farm), and our family, whilst trying my best to enjoy the journey. 

“We named our daughters after two Australian women we admire. They are both women who determinedly followed their hearts to do what they were truly passionate about. One was Elisabeth Murdoch, and the other Maggie Beer. 

“Like any mother, I have such hope for the women our daughters will become. I want them to be brave, kind, fierce, strong, thoughtful, confident, fun and free.”

Marian, The Flower Hut Farm, Tasmania, Australia.

“Unlike my desk job, which is intangible to the girls, flower farming is part of our everyday life, they see me (and my husband) getting up early to pick flowers, talking to customers, arranging bouquets, and yes, sending invoices and doing my BAS. It makes more sense to them.”

“Honestly, sometimes during our first season there have been moments when the mother-guilt has hit hard, and I wonder if I should be doing this. But then I see how proud the girls are of the flowers we produce, and how they always love to meet the visitors and customers who come to visit the farm, and my fears dissipate.” 

Marian, The Hut Flower Farm, Tasmania

For more reading on this topic….

The Conversation – Get children off screens and outside.

Columbia University – Why we mustn’t lose our connection with nature

Children’s Books Daily has a post on the best books for kids, nature and sustainability here.

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