The Importance of Playing in the Dirt

While growing up my parents purchased land in the Humber Valley (Little Rapids to be exact). Eleven acre property about 15 mins outside of Corner Brook.  My parents grew up during WW2 and grocery stores weren't in existence especially in outport Newfoundland. You fished, grew or hunted what you ate. Of course you would get flour, salt and dry good items from the local store but predominately you consumed what you physically procured (fancy word!).

Fast forward the story to 1977 and this property in Little Rapids. My dad tilled and worked the rocky soil and grew potatoes, carrots, maybe even turnip. We had a root cellar that was filled in the fall and for the most part supplemented our food for the entire winter. My dad had a full time job... left the house at 7am and back home at 530pm - long enough to have supper and then work in the garden, the shed or the barn until dark. Part was necessity but most was enjoyment.  "We're action people Lori", and he was exactly that. In retirement his entire day was spent out puttering and growing.

My step-mom Irene is a gardening machine. Out at 7am and in at night.  I witnessed them working side by side for 27 years. Hard physical work but they lived it every darned day.

Your next question may be, Where the hell were you Lori? Inside... watching the soaps mostly or reading. Not much into the physical and definitely not into gardening. But somehow I learned things and many years later the love for gardening appeared and I had two great resources to use.

The past few years has brought me a garden (compliments of Dad and Irene) to play in.

Don't worry, I was there somewhere.  Dad and I lugged all that crushed stone through the townhouse basement via buckets.  Three quarters of a tonne (I shit you not).  But there they are (both well into their 70's), working it.

Last week I visited two kindergarten classes in St. John's and showed them how to start vegetable plants. My friend Peggy is their teacher and asked if I could help during a visit home to see my family. It got me thinking... How many children have zero concept of where their food comes from, do they know that it isn't shrink wrapped or cellophaned?

The importance of playing in the dirt...

I don't know about anyone else but I love playing in the dirt. Soil beneath my fingernails and the smell of earth. It makes me feel 4 instead of the 40 I am. I don't see it as work, I see it as joy. An escape from my laptop, BlackBerry, cellphone, Kobo or whatever technology occupies my life. Yes I use my digital camera to take pictures but heck I am pretty chuffed when I see what I have helped to grow.

Why is it important to show your children how to grow something? Better science marks...  Kidding!!  Well yes but this is a skill that could supplement their grocery bill, allow them to eat nutritional food and further propogate the love of playing in the dirt.

You don't need acres to grow. A bright window sill and imagination can go far. Do... and teach. Your children and the earth will thank you and possibly your retirement plan.

For those who wonder how important growing was to my dad?  At 80 years old and in his last days he wondered how his potatoes were doing. Take a look and decide (to your left in containers, the right was his flake for drying fish).

The importance of playing in the dirt...


  1. Playing in the dirt is essential to living. I firmly believe that!

    Your parents sound like wonderful people. "People of action" I love it!

    This is a wonderful post! Even as I sit here bracing for yet another gross winter storm, I can't wait to play in the dirt!

    1. They were (are) wonderful. I am very lucky to have such role models. I can't wait for dirt time. Manicures be damned!


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