Sacred Seeds Living Memorials – Grow in memory of me

As I recently was reminded, losing someone you love so much is such a heartbreaking life event. I had lost my sister in 2005 and I still wasn’t over that. When the initial shock sinks in, the overwhelming disbelief that you will never share their company again is gut wrenching.

For the few days between the death of my mother and her burial service I was not part of this earth, I was searching and searching for a way to connect with her. I could still see her face, hear her voice and smell her around me, but, she wasn’t there. I would close my eyes and imagine floating to her, reaching out to her. It was as if I were pulling her back, or moving towards her. All my life I felt her presence. I hadn’t lived at home with her for over 25 years, but I always felt her there. I knew she was only a drive or a call away. I was lost, not she… it was me that felt ripped away so violently. I couldn’t bare the pain. I wouldn’t except her not being here.

The day of her funeral I was a spectator floating miles above. I saw myself read her eulogy, I didn’t believe the words I wrote were for her. I was an actor in a movie, a horror movie and I wanted to run, keep running.

The numbness stayed for weeks after that day. I was still locked in this nightmare. Instead of lucid dreaming, I was lucid living, wishing it was a dream and I would wake up, and all would be well again.

All of the 49 years of memories flooded back, things I can’t imagine why I remembered. Ordinary days, eating a sandwich at school lunch-break at home, my tea ready beside it, and a kit-kat bar for afters. My mother chatting away to me, and the smell of sweet tea. Nothing very special, just another day like every other school day. I don’t remember storing that memory.

crochet socks (without tassels)
My mother and me May 1977

My communion day, and the hand crochet stockings with the tassels on them, little crochet rings they were, I loved them. She had them made for me somewhere, her face beaming at her first born’s big day.

More memories…

Laughing and laughing so hard that I felt ill, when she would tickle me and my sister. Playing ball against the bedroom walls in our flat, her singing
‘One, two, three O’Leary
Four, five, six, O’Leary
Seven, eight, nine, O’Leary
Ten O’Leary
Catch the ball.’

stock pic girl play ball

My mother and my sister and I wearing my dad’s woolly army socks and skating up and down the hallway of our flat, polishing the floor after my mother had poured polish on it. I could smell the lavender scent all around me. My whole childhood playing like a movie every time I closed my eyes.

Both of them gone, only ghostly memories. I was overwhelmed with grief, I didn’t think I would laugh ever again.

As my business is seed papers and all things seed, my very good friend suggested I grow something for my mother and sister. She said it would focus my memories and help me carry on. So that is exactly what I did.

I remember my walks in those days in the 70’s ( I have a blog post about it) , running through meadows of flowers. My sister and I would pick them for my mother and she would make a big fuss putting them in a vase on the good table. Flowers especially wildflowers remind me of my parents and sister, and all of my childhood days. They always make me smile. I wanted so much to smile again. To remember them with joy, and love, not fear and pain. So I got to work.

This is what I created for them. I have also created it for you! because it has helped me so much. Helped me heal. I can now smile and watch the wildflowers growing. I feel connected again with my mother, she feels here again. She is after all memorialised forever in my garden.

You can email me at geri@irishseedpaper.ie if you would like to know more

The best vegetables to grow in Containers.

The easy answer is what you like to eat! There is a great many rewards to growing your own food. First and foremost is you know what you are putting into your body, and that of your family. You get the pleasure of nurturing the food you love from seed to table. Food always tastes better! There are fantastic mental health rewards too. As you are caring for your plants you are spending time connected to nature. You are practicing mindfulness and engaging in a really meaning activity. Direct contact with the soil and the microbes that exist in it can boost serotonin in our bodies, this can promote happiness and contentment. Growing from seeds can give a real sense of hope too. If you are new to growing plants the new skill and knowledge acquired will create a real sense of fulfillment and well-being.

You don’t have to have a lot of space to grow food, you don’t even have to own a garden. You can grow lots of different vegetables in pots and containers. Here I have drawn up a list of such vegetables that grow really well in them.

Tomatoes (smaller varieties work really well) Cherry tomatoes produce a very high yield too!

Beans. These can be climbers or bushier varieties (Grow against a wall or trellis for support) because the produce nitrogen it is beneficial to grow other veg beneath them for example kale or celery.

Lettuce. This grows really quickly and you can cut and grow throughout the summer.

Peppers/chillies (keep in a sunny spot)

Bok Choy. These grow really quickly and don’t require a lot of sunlight. Keep well fertilized and watered to thrive.

Spinach.  Grows really well in containers and can even be grow on a sunny windowsill.

Peas. These are really easy to grow in pots, they grow quickly and don’t need a lot of attention, just keep moist. (dwarf varieties work well)

Carrots.  These are best grown in cool weather, keep watered as this prevents them splitting. A nice deep pot for the longer varieties.

Kale. Perfect to cut leaves again and again.

Chard. Rainbow chard also looks beautiful.

Garlic. A wide pot or window box is perfect. Garlic cloves need 6 inch spacing. The greens can also be enjoyed in salads or sandwiches.

Why not start a container vegetable garden this year? You will really benefit from it. It is inexpensive and very easy to do. It is a fantastic way to encourage children to eat more veggies too  

Teaching Children how to garden

Ask your child what they would like to grow:

If you are lucky enough to have a child that really likes vegetables why not encourage them to grow their own. Greens like salad leaves grow quickly and abundantly. Cherry tomatoes very easy to grow, they also produce fruit much more quickly than larger tomato plants. Peas and carrots can be planted in spring for an early summer crop too. Flowers are fantastic too!

Start a small project:

Your child doesn’t need a very big space to start planning a garden.  A window garden or an old wheelbarrow, sink, barrel or patio pots are perfect. You don’t even need a garden as many apartments have balconies. A small patch is actually better to teach children about gardening at first. As they can manage the responsibility of watering and feeding. They can learn about the basics of sunshine and healthy soil for maintaining a small veggie patch too. This will inspire interest and confidence to have a bigger patch next time.

Buy them their own tools:

Encourage children by buying them their own gardening tools, watering can and gloves. Don’t forget the wellies too! This makes for an excellent Christmas or birthday gift too. The gift of the outdoors and exercise.

First Lady Michelle Obama, chefs from around the country, and a group of children harvest vegetables from the White House Kitchen Garden during a ÒLetÕs Move!Ó event on the South Lawn of the White House, June 4, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Teach them consistency and responsibility:

Have them spend a few minutes each day caring for their plants, making sure they are watered and feed. That no weeds are taking over.  This is a wonderful act of mindfulness. They are nurturing a living thing and learn to understand that attention and care is very important for all living things

Have FUN!!:

Gardening is all about fun too! If you have space, why not grow sunflowers and watch them follow the sun all day. Or indeed a large pumpkin. This they can carve for Halloween.

There is something wonderful about growing plants. It is a love that with stay with your child throughout life.

It is also something you can do together!  Why not pick up some seeds today.

Gardening can make your children smarter.

Studies have shown that children ask more questions about MATH, SCIENCE and NATURE when they are gardening! While gardening, not only will you teach and encourage these questions, your children will also benefit greatly from being outside in the sunshine!

We learn more when we don’t realise, we are being taught! By engaging in a practice, and immersed in an activity we not only learn theory, we learn and remember through the practice.

Children learn about photosynthesis, sunshine, and water. They learn about balance. Too much of anything isn’t good for you. Too much fertiliser or water can do plants more harm than good, the same can be said of donuts 😉

They learn about the importance of birds, worms, bees and butterflies. They learn about how to encourage all life into the garden, and to deter pests without reaching for a harmful spray.

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Children learn about the importance of math in the garden, distance needed between plants, and the depth which seeds to be planted. This practical use of math shows them day to day how math is important.

Another very beneficial lesson children can learn whilst gardening is NUTRITION and how eating a balanced diet is good for them. They can learn about the different vitamins each plant provides and this information will stay with them into adulthood.

It isn’t only beneficial to children’s minds to do a bit of gardening, it also benefits them physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Their bodies benefit by building strength and immunity by simply digging the earth and moving around. They improve hand to eye coordination, and because they have a lot of energy children get to burn it off in a positive way.

They can see and learn about the whole cycle of life. All the stages are evident in nature, from planting seed to harvesting.

They really have fun! They love getting their hands dirty with mud and water. They get to spend time with you, and all the family.

In this day and age, it would be very difficult to discourage children from playing computer games or watching TV, so why not encourage them to do something else instead. The carrot is always better than the (joy)stick 😉

Why living memorials?

 

Life and Death, how nature teaches us how to heal.

From the time we are born, we are learning all about the circle of life. Mother nature is very obviously teaching us, and imprinting on us that all things come and go. We celebrate it on every occasion, without ever thinking of it. The circle of life is around us all the time, we witness it 12 months of the year, and we have landmarks for it, Spring, lambs and flowers. Summer abundance of vegetables and flowers, warm air and blue skies, happy faces  and glowing skins full of life! Autumn ( fall) turning leaves and cooler shorter days. Warm clothes and reflective walks in nature. Winter nights and still cold air, and seasonal celebrations and again reflective times, of friends and family passed. Then New Years and forward thinking, making plans and looking ahead, can you see the pattern? Mother nature is teaching us that all things pass and all things come again. There is a great mystery to life that is written and documented better than I ever could, it is a mystery that we all want to understand, we as humans are complex thinkers, we like to solve things, we look for clues all the time, it is how our brains processes. The answers are there. Everyday, 365 we are been giving the clues and answers.

When a loved one passes. Our world is shattered, we are frightened at the loss, unable to understand that they are gone. Where are they, do they see us still? can they hear us weep and pray? This we will never know… this isn’t a comfort! I know, I know from experience myself. This is our Winter… our dark and cold place in our heads. Like winter these feeling pass, they don’t go but they lessen. Then we have moments of reflection, we smile and laugh and celebrate our memories once again.

However, where is our Spring? our Summer? surely if what I have written about Mother nature teaching us is true, then in the circle next comes spring, then summer..right? This is how our minds work, we need to make it right.. to have that pattern. This is where planting new life in memory of a loved one helps. It is a constant and visual reminder, that life goes on! the circle of life is whole. Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, and again, and again…

Plant flowers or Trees in memory of you loved one. Celebrate that even if you can’t be sure, or you can not prove it, life still goes on.

This has helped me. I know it will help you too.

 

Geri xx

Seed Paper for Schools

gaelscoil pic
Seed Bomb from Local Irish School

Hi, it’s been a long while since I have written here, I have been busy developing projects for my business. I would love to share this one with you all.

sunflower bombs
Seed Bomb

I’m really excited to share this new idea with you all. I have developed a super educational tool for teachers.

I remember my early school days, and the Nature Table we had set up at the end of the classroom. I always felt really proud when I would bring in a feather or an acorn and the Teacher would let me place it on the table. I found myself always on the lookout on my walks with my parents. I was really lucky because my mother worked in Dublin Zoo, in the big restaurant there in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. My sister and I would often go with our Dad to collect her after work. I remember finding a huge feather one day, from a swan. I couldn’t wait to bring it to class the next day. As Dublin Zoo is in the Phoenix Park, one of the largest enclosed recreational spaces in Europe, I was always sure to find some treasure for the nature table.

However, my favorite part of our nature studies without rival was growing plants! We always grew cress seeds on tissue paper. I loved how the grew green shoots for the slippery almost jelly like wet seeds. I loved their peppery taste too! However the whole growing experience was always too short-lived for me. They came and went quickly.

With this experience in mind, I have developed my seed bombs. I make the seed bombs with recycled paper pulp. This is usually a byproduct of my hand-made seed paper offcuts. I then add sunflower seeds to them. They contain Irish wildflower seeds already.

The reason for the sunflower seeds is the germination is very speedy and robust. They can be started indoors and nurtured until a warmer and more appropriate transplant time. This is perfect for schools as the timing is in and around school annual summer holidays. ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have these educational tools prepared so you could focus more on teaching the kids?’ How easy when writing this part of the curriculum to have the aids to hand and have a constant, growing reminder that the kids could take home at the end of term to remember?’ The whole ‘flower’ can be planted as it is 100% biodegradable. This is a very easy way to plant seed. The seed bomb acts as a vessel. The seeds are encased within the paper, and will remain dormant until all elements are in place.  They can keep for up to three years this way in dark dry conditions. When they are planted in compost and watered, the sunflower seed will germinate in a matter of days.

They are easy to handle, visually explanatory and children love them. These wonderful little vessels are perfect for multisensory learning. 

They come with a care pack for teachers and students. The children are encouraged to plant the flowers and gather the seed, to document weekly the progress, even during summer. This is both convenient and a fun way to learn.  The whole pack offers lessons in the importance of recycling and the life cycle of the plant. There are also lessons on bee and pollinators conservation. Below is a video in which you will see the growth 13 days on from planting, enjoy!

Wildflower Wednesday Video

Why seed paper?

My name is Geri Fortune.  I run an arts and crafts business In Dublin Ireland. I have a passion for recycling and more predominantly Up-cycling. Recycling is a wonderful practice, we all know the benefits of it. Up-cycling goes that one step further. This is when we use unwanted, waste or indeed useless products and transform them through creativity. This has a better impact environmentally and through the reuse of   everyday materials we reduce our carbon footprint. I offer online and offline courses in this.

I love to recycle everything I can. I love the challenge of transforming the old and unloved into something new! We as a society waste so much! As a result, our children can think “everything” is disposable. This is NOT the case!

Addressing this as a parent or teacher can be a daunting task! We live in a time when everything we need seems to come in an instant! Seldom do we question how things are made or indeed what impact the process of manufacturing has on our planet. When we need for example paint to do a project, we buy it readymade. This can be expensive both on our pocket and our carbon footprint. Paint can be made from ingredients we have already in our home. This teaches our children to breakdown the dependency of instant gratification, whilst teaching them appreciation.  They become more mindful of how things are made and they learn to make their own. This will spill into all areas of their lives. As the saying goes

 “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you have fed him for a lifetime”.

Arts and Crafts are a wonderful way to teach children science and nature. They unconsciously learn about them through a fun and creative process. This is something I reinforce through my tutorials. I will give you an example of what I mean.  The “Magic Milk” experiment. This is a chemistry experiment, the magical interactions that occur when the dish soap grabs the food colouring. Soap is a “degreaser” so the molecules in it are attacking the fat in the milk, this causes motion which in turn creates the “swirl” of colours. It is a Fascinating process to watch! And when you lay paper on the surface you capture that “lesson” tangibly.

Homemade Recycled Paper, made from paper you rescue from the recycle bin! Used copy paper, old receipts, junk mail, scraps for projects even grocery bags. This paper can be used to make cards, journals etc or just to use in your projects. You can colour and add flowers, spices, herbs etc so that is becomes a sensory experience also.

meadow

Then there is ‘Seed Paper’

Why seed paper? well that’s easy to answer… My idea is to spread the joy of beauty and Nature whenever possible. This simple act of giving a gift of seed paper is hugely beneficial to biodiversity. Our wonderful friends the butterflies and bees love wildflowers and they are in decline. The modern times we live in and the use of pesticides have greatly affected the abundance of our beautiful wildflowers. When I was a girl I remember walking through meadows of them, not to far from Dublin airport.

trees and flowers

There is nothing more beautiful than the sight of a sea of flowers and the sound of the gentle humming of bees. My sister and I would squeal with delight at all of the beautiful butterflies we would dance after on these magical walks with our dad. My seed paper can be planted in garden, pots, abandoned unloved urban areas and so easily. I make little emblems from the paper I make, these are so easy to give as a gift. Why not mark an occasion with one of these special life giving cards, just one small switch in your gift giving can make such a huge impact in this planet we live on. Feed our little friends the tiny ones, they do so much for us.