Spielwarenmesse: "The Good Life" is bang on trend!

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Mädchen sitzt im Garten und macht Gartenarbeit


"The Good Life" is bang on trend!

from Ulrich Texter

Urban gardening and allotments are booming among young families, who are increasingly looking to their gardens in search of a good work-life balance. No wonder that the TrendCommittee of the Spielwarenmesse is experiencing an upsurge in toys designed for gardening. Experts are convinced that the trend towards "Exploring Nature" will continue. The signs that this is the case are good.

Goodbye automation, farewell convenience. Making things with your own fair hands is the in thing right now. And the trend shows no signs of abating. People are crafting, crocheting and knitting as though René Descartes has once again arisen from the grave 308 years after his death: creo ergo sum - I create, therefore I am. Countless blogs and social networks such as Pinterest, which is said to have already more than 200 million active users, are helping people carry out such domestic activities. Never before has so much homemade jam, preserves or craft beers been made as today. And should you not have the time make things yourself, then you needn't forego handmade and unique items – thanks to Etsy or Dawanda.

The longing for self-expression

The yearning for self-expression and happiness is also what characterises the "cottage gardening", "self-harvesting" and "urban gardening" movement. The paradoxical thing about it is that it is a "backward trend". What urban hipsters and young families are seeking to find by growing herbs, carrots and radishes is nothing other than what previous generations saw in their allotments: a place that offered a chance to unwind despite – or perhaps because of – the fact that the work that they did there was something that they themselves had control over.

And since Taylorism, which is making headway through digitisation, has fuelled the need to regain some control at least in private life, who can blame Generation Y, who is always asking for meaning in life, for doing so? And children likewise want to do things by themselves. "I believe," says Dominik Klein, responsible for Marketing / Key Account at Theo Klein GmbH, "that gardening also makes children happy because they see the results of their work. They are responsible for what happens."

All good things come back to you

New York is the hotspot for trends – or so one likes to think. Sometimes, it's actually worth taking a closer look. When rooftops mutate into fields in Brooklyn, New York, or an intercultural communal garden is created in the Mauerpark in Berlin, this is down to the allotment garden movement in Germany, which originated in Leipzig in the mid-nineteenth century. In the "economic miracle" years in Germany in the 20th century, allotments were regarded as a bourgeois Eldorado for the elderly rather than an identity-forming hotspot.

These days, the plots are so popular with young families – especially in cities – that it's hard to satisfy the demand for them. This comes as no surprise to the Federal Association of German Garden Friends: "What is being celebrated today under the term of 'urban gardening' as something which is avant-garde is nothing other than the idea and history of allotments: commandeering collectively free spaces in the city, greening and invigorating them."

The little ones garden like the big ones

The fact that the topic of gardening would at some point also involve the next generation, which had to be equipped with the right "tools", seems only logical – after all, small children want to "imitate" the big adults and nature is still the most exciting playground and biggest stimulus for one's imagination.

Our research shows, that parents are increasingly aware of the importance of playing outdoors in order to promote children's development

Dr Maria Costa, director of the Spanish Children's Research Centre at the AIJU and member of the TrendCommittee of Spielwarenmesse eG.

For many years, the toy industry sector has offered adventure toys, such as whittling kits, pulleys or hiking sticks as found in the portfolio of Corvus or Haba. Now, experts have registered a significant increase in gardening toys.

Time to tackle the beds and flowerpots!

Packaging of my vegetable garden sowing, marveling at astonishment
Vegetable garden by Coppenrath
Three different Jardinis in the packaging
Jardinis by Goliath Toys

The trend has been in the making for some time. In the first decade of the 2000s, books such as "Gardening with Children" came onto the market. These days, there are countless blogs that provide help. In the last 6 to 8 years, the toy industry has been following suit. As early as 2012, Kosmos presented its experiment box "My First Greenhouse", which was followed by "Herb Garden" in 2016.

One year later, Coppenrath issued its plant set "My First Vegetable Garden", which lets children over the age of 5 sow carrots and radish seeds and observe the development of the plants above and below ground. Now along comes Goliath Toys with its "Jardinis". Here, children can grow cress, chives or basil in animal figurine pots on the windowsill. It goes without saying that various manufacturers are offering tools for the "Kids Gardening" trend.

A love of nature from an early age

Illustration of book gardening in the bed, pot and box
The gardeners book by Moses publishing: Gardening in the bed, pot & box

Also on the bandwagon is the Moses Verlag publishing company. "We don't necessarily see the issue as a new trend," says Nina Tebartz, partner and managing director at Moses. "Helping children to understand and experience nature is becoming ever more important today, especially in the urban family environment and on account of the fact that – fortunately – more and more families are more aware of what they're eating and living more sustainable lives."

The publishing company traditionally focuses more on nature topics in its spring range. One highlight is the new book "Gardening in Beds, Pots and Boxes". However, chapters such as "My Knight's Bed" or "Vegetable Dyes from Your Own Garden" suggest that the book contains tips on not only how to garden but ideas for games and crafts as well – and if you want, you can also buy the matching folding spade with 10 functions from Moses. "Gardening for children is a particularly good example in this context", says Nina Tebartz, "because it teaches the children in a very playful way that tomatoes do not grow on supermarket shelves."

One practical tool for the garden, beach and sandpit comes from the creative Belgian company Quut Toys. Raki is not only well-designed ergonomically, but can be used as a rake or spade, funnel and sieve – making it ideal for working in the garden.

Children want to do things themselves

Theo Klein GmbH also proved that it has the right instinct. At the Spielwarenmesse®, the company will present four different BOSCH planting kits in various price ranges. On the occasion of its product launch, Klein will give each consumer an organic starter set consisting of pots, coconut coir pellets and organic seeds. Children can start planting right away. Dominik Klein wishes to expand the range "out of personal conviction", as he puts it. According to his theory, issues such as self-sufficiency, regionalism and sustainability will continue to gain in importance – which is why he not only grows herbs himself but also, wherever possible, buys his food directly from the producer.

The Brandstätter Group, more famous for their Playmobil play worlds, is also jumping on the bandwagon with its Lechuza brand and the MINI-DELTINI children's sets. Why? Since looking after their own plants gives the next generation a very special experience. It is precisely what their parents like so much.

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