VITAMIN N IN THE CITY: Rekindling a Relationship with Nature in the City

About the Author

Marghanita Hughes is a children’s author and illustrator and creator of the award-winning children’s brand, The Little Humbugs. She is a naturalist and founder of the “Let’s Go Outside” Revolution – a Canadian non-profit organization with a mission to change the way children spend their time. Throughout the year, Marghanita runs nature classes for children and "hands on" workshops for educators wanting to learn how they can connect children with the natural world. She strongly believes that all children should be given the opportunity to discover and explore the natural world.

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This summer, the Children and Nature Network invited me to take the Vitamin N challenge as one of the challenge bloggers and social networkers to help connect children families and communities to the natural world.

Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life, Richard Louv’s new book, was written to encourage widespread, diverse and accessible action to nature. After reading it, I decided to focus my challenge on finding nature in the city. An upcoming trip to Edinburgh would put my challenge to the test. You can watch a video explaining my challenge choice below.

‘For a new generation, nature is more abstraction than reality. Increasingly, nature is something to watch, to consume, to wear – to ignore.’ – Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

Finding nature in the city isn’t difficult, however getting intimate with nature in the city is more of a challenge. My first and most obvious choice was to head to a favourite green space my parents introduced me to when I was very small – the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. The Botanics became our back garden for my husband and me when we lived in the city with our young family before leaving the city to live in the Highlands. My visits to the Botanics inspired me to create this list: How to Rekindle an Intimate Relationship with Nature in the City.

1. Go Find a Park or Garden

There are over 150 parks in Edinburgh City and there are over 800 botanical gardens in the world. A botanical garden is a place where plants, especially ferns, conifers and flowering plants, are grown and displayed for the purposes of research, conservation, and education. The earliest botanical gardens were founded in the late Renaissance at the University of Pisa (1543) and the University of Padua (1545) in Italy, for the study and teaching of medical botany.

2. Find a Tree

Better still, let the tree find you. In the Botanical Gardens there are so many different species of trees. As a child I was spellbound by the monkey puzzle trees and the Giant Redwoods, little did I know then that I would one day be hugging these gentle giants in their natural habitat.

3. Hug the Tree

I mean really hug the tree. Take a deep breath in and exhale slowly and just relax into the tree. Close your eyes and gently whisper gratitude for the sacred gifts we receive from these beautiful beings.

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” – Khalil Gibran

4. Go Barefoot

I love to go barefoot. “When you walk with naked feet, how can you ever forget the earth?”When we walk barefoot we automatically go slower. We become more observant of our surroundings. We begin to feel more connected, more grounded.

Vitamin N book reference: p37 – Mindful Walking

5. Focus in on Nature

Stop and touch the flowers, smell their fragrant scent. Watch the bees and butterflies arrive. Marvel at the wonder around you in these amazing green spaces.

Vitamin N book reference: p37 “Stop, look and listen more attentively”.

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6. Be playful

See the world through the eyes of children – run barefoot, climb a tree, sing with the birds, play hide and seek. Let the inner child loose – dance wild and free! If your excited about nature your children will be too!These amazing green spaces in our cities offer us all (children and adults) opportunities to get intimate with nature. Wishing you all a beautiful day with nature wherever you are in the world, love and peace

— Marghanita

This post was originally published on the Educating the Heart through Nature Art website as part of Marghanita’s Vitamin N Challenge experience


Additional Resources

Nature Art in the City by Marghanita Hughes
Finding Nature in the City Marghanita Hughes
Marghanita’s Vitamin N Challenge Video
Marghanita’s Vitamin N Challenge Video – How to get Intimate with Nature in the City
THE FAMILY NATURE BUCKET LIST: Here’s an Easy Way to Get a Regular Dose of Nature
VITAMIN N AT HOME: Backyard Fort Building
10 Reasons Children, Adults & Communities Need Vitamin N
5 Ways to Get Kids into Nature — Outside Magazine
10 Vitamin N Strategies for Families, Organizations and Communities
Vitamin N Book Excerpt: San Diego Magazine

C&NN Resources
50 books with tips and suggestions for getting outdoors.
Nature Clubs for Families Took Kit provides worksheets, templates, examples, and more resources for getting your club up and running.
Nature Clubs Directory connects you with existing clubs and leaders around the world for support in starting your own club.
C&NN’s Family Nature Club Leaders Facebook group provides ongoing support and inspiration.

Photo credits: Marghanita Hughes

Commentaries here and elsewhere on the C&NN website are offered
to inform readers and to stimulate new thinking and debate. C&NN does not officially
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1 Comment

  1. Everything here is “spot on” and so timely for children and adults of the high tech era. Marghanita’s six suggestions are really the same as what I loved to do as a child in Norfolk, Virginia. Now that I am 80-years-old I can partially credit my childhood for my good health, positive outlook and insatiable curiosity about our marvelous world of nature. Those who never had or don’t now have these connections have missed one of life’s major blessings.


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