‘They just get it’ ~ Costa helps kids connect with country through native garden

We welcomed back our BFF Costa to the Warndu farm for the weekend. It was such a joy to have him meet Mallee for the first time (oh and of course the garden advice ha ha ha). His passion and enthusiasm for all things is contagious and gave us a little pep in our step too.

We were so lucky to also have him come and help us start our Bush Botanical garden at Mallee’s Day Care Centre, The Gums. The little ones met Costa the Garden Gnome and mums and dads got a few selfies too!

The below article was originally featured on ABC News.

A young girl sits in the dirt next to a man with a huge beard in fancy dress holding two coloured mini shovels.

Costa Georgiadis says he tries to include First Nations ideas on his show. (Supplied: The Gums Childcare Centre)

A childcare centre at Clare in South Australia's mid-north has planted a native food garden to help local kids connect with the Indigenous land they live on. 
Rebecca Sullivan and Costa Georgiadis, from the ABC's Gardening Australia program, visited The Gums Childcare Centre this week to set up the bush tucker garden.
A woman kneeling next to a garden bed gestures and explains something to a toddler standing next to her.

Kids learn about native gardening at a Clare childcare centre. (Supplied: The Gums Childcare Centre)

Georgiadis said children were not afraid to get their hands dirty, and through gardening, kids could build their relationship with country. "I think childcare is really leading the way because they're preparing the children," he said.
Sullivan and Georgiadis chose highly sensory plants for the garden so the children could smell, pluck and taste them, as well as cook with them in the childcare centre's kitchen. The plants included three types of bush mint, native lemongrass, saltbush, karkalla or pigface, Warrigal greens and berries. Growing native plants in an educational setting provided an opportunity to share culture and local yarns about the wild flora, Georgiadis said. He said the stories about growing certain plants went beyond eating them, and extended to knowledge about their medicinal qualities and their natural habitats.
Sullivan worked in the local food industry for 10 years, but only realised how little she knew when she met Mr Coulthard. "I knew nothing about local food because I'd never tried kangaroo and didn't know what wattleseed was," she said.
A man in a gnome costume with a huge beard looks animated in front of a group of seated small children.

Costa Georgiadis speaks with children at the childcare centre about native foods. (Supplied: The Gums Childcare Centre)

Sullivan has been planning this bush tucker garden with her Indigenous son, who also attends the childcare centre. "I know three, four, five-year-old kids that can sing songs in (the) local language of the schools they go to, because they're learning about it in school.  "They just get it, and they're the ones who are probably going to teach us." 

The Highway Forward

Georgiadis, who has a national platform as the host of Gardening Australia, said it was  important to regularly include First Nations ideas of horticulture and cooking on the show.  He said fellow presenter and Bundjalung man, Clarence Slockee, had done a lot to share Indigenous stories on the program.
Man with long hair smiling at camera in patterned button up shirt. Sitting in front of large tree roots.

Bundjalung man Clarence Slockee brings First Nations concepts to Gardening Australia. (Source: Gardening Australia)

"Because he's there week in and week out, these stories get exposure on a habitual basis," Georgiadis said. He said, for example, that if Slockee spoke about a flower on the program, that could inspire others to share and pass that knowledge on in the community. "So you start to tell the cultural yarns that are science. They're actually real-time science that has been practised for thousands of years and we can do it through gardening in this really subtle way."