Evie Kissack chats to Lee Connelly (The Skinny Jean Gardener) ahead of BBC Gardeners' World Live on inspiring families to get involved in the garden!

When did the name Skinny Jean Gardener first come about?

It’s a really boring one really, 6 years have gone by since I took on the Skinny Jean Gardener name, and in all those 6 years I’ve still not got a better story. It’s just simply because I wear skinny jeans while I garden. They are the best piece of clothing to look cool in the garden…although bit sweaty in the summer. 

 

You’re on a mission to get children, teens and students gardening. How do you encourage younger people to get involved in the garden?

It’s just simple… get outside as a family and get growing your own. Growing your own veg gets everyone excited, watching the smallest of seeds grow in to an actual plant that you can eat! It still amazes me now. 

 

Why is it important for you to inspire families to get out into the garden?

It’s all about making proper memories together, and there’s not a better activity than gardening to come together and do. Some of my best memories have been in the garden with my wife and daughter. 

 

The award-winning free family gardening podcast is a fantastic initiative. How do you decide upon the topics for your show?

It’s all about what people are asking, and also challenging the industry on how they get people into gardening. It’s really light-hearted fun, that is accessible to everyone… we literally just have a laugh with it. 

You’ll be attending BBC Gardeners’ World Live this summer. Are you looking forward to the event?

Love this event, it brings all gardeners of all ages together, this is what it’s all about. 

 

What is the highlight of the event for you? What experts are you most looking forward to see?

Apart from myself obviously, I love seeing Mr Jim Buttress interviewing the faces, Matt Biggs is always a friendly face to see on stage and makes it really accessible, and finding out what Adam Frost is up to is always a delight. 

 

So, how did you first get into gardening? 

It all started on an allotment with my brother, going into it without any knowledge and just having fun with it. My passion grew from there. 

 

What gardening jobs do you recommend for this month for families? 

This is the best time to start you gardening adventure. Choose you top 5 seeds of plants you will actually use in the kitchen and eat. Don’t grow too much in the first year. Top 5 is where it’s at. 

 

During your appearance at BBC Gardeners’ World Live 2019, you’ll be heavily involved in the Children’s Trail and will be hosting several family-friendly sessions. Why do you feel it’s important to encourage children and families to get ‘hands on’ in the garden?

It comes back to that making memories together and also knowing where your food comes from. We’re also at an age where being patient doesn’t happen as much anymore. We want everything instantly. I think re-learning patience and that good things come to those who wait, is important and gardening can do that. 

What are the benefits of teaching children about sustainability and how to create recipes using home-grown ingredients from a young age?

A lot of what we learn as children is through gardening, unless we go into it as a career, it comes back to us when we eventually move out of mum and dads house when we are older. It’s really important we learn this in our childhood and make it part of our daily life 

 

The Wheelbarrow competition will also be returning to the Show this year with a new theme, Around the World in Thirty Barrows, where school children in the region will be creating an homage to their chosen land in the space of a barrow. How do you source inspiration for projects and what advice would you give to the school children for this creative activity? 

I LOVE this competition! It really gets the children inspired and excited about gardening. A lot of my inspiration comes from what I see as I walk around, but also knowing that no idea is too much! Go big or go home as they say. 

 

Catch Lee at BBC Gardeners’ World Live this summer. Full line up available online at www.bbcgardenersworldlive.com!

 

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