"A Thought From The Field" on the question of introducing children to the topics of food production and textiles
When a few weeks ago the decision was made for the project to choose flax as the next crop, I wanted to finally implement a concept that has been on my mind for some time. I still remember a project from my own elementary school days, when we spent a year growing and processing wheat together with student teachers from the nearby College of Education. The sowing, the harvest, the cleaning and finally the baking of bread - as these are memories that are still deeply rooted in me more than 30 years later and that have sensitized me to the topic of food production.
Now with flax, the focus is on a plant that not only enables the same potential in terms of food appreciation, but also in terms of textiles, i.e. clothes. So I finally entered the race with the ambition to create a comparable memory also for the children in Lorsch, the place where our open-air museum is also located. In addition, however, I did not want to reach just one institution or group of children, but as many children as possible at once. I was concerned with creating a collective memory. In order to make my topics (from seed to harvest, appreciation of food production, value chains in relation to textile production) as sustainable as possible, the decision was made on my part not to invite the children to our museum (or at least not right away), but to go directly to the respective institutions. In consultation with the educators and the management of the kindergartens, areas were found on the outdoor grounds to create small flax beds. If this was not possible in the outside area, large flower pots or buckets were provided by us.
In the past few weeks, a first big introduction took place in two of the municipal kindergartens, the Protestant kindergarten and one of the Catholic kindergartens, with a total of several hundred children involved in the project. Flax was introduced as a plant, its processing and possible products were described, and finally, with the help of the children, it was sown on the plots.
The on-site location, where the children spend five days a week after all, enables a closer connection to the topic. Comments such as 'we will take good care of our flax field', which could be heard regularly from the children, further confirmed this assumption.
Finally, in the municipal elementary school, a selected class went one step further. Not only did the children create a small class bed, which is regularly observed and cared for by the class, but each child was also allowed to take home a small flower pot with flax they had sown themselves. The teacher gave them a planting diary, so that from now on the children will deal with the topic of flax in a double way.
In the coming months, there will be more appointments at the facilities and finally a visit to the museum. On-site, the aim will be to demonstrate the processing steps of flax to the children and to view and experience the large flax fields there as a comparison. In the end, the children should have been able to get to know and understand all conceivable production and processing steps, from the seed to the finished linen cloth, from the seed to the finished linen oil, from the seed to the finished dish. With this, I hope that I can make a further contribution to a new and different way of dealing with food and textiles at an early age.