Throughout 2016, we worked with a large number of pupils and parents across five schools in the east of the borough to teach them about growing and eating their own fresh, healthy food. Over 100 students from Beecholme, Lonesome, William Morris, Stanford and Links Primary Schools took part in the scheme, where teachers, parents and local residents joined in and got their hands dirty!
Fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers were planted to create beautiful, and productive outdoor gardening areas for the children to care for and be proud of. Classroom lessons taught our budding gardeners about basic plant science and the importance of healthy eating, such as reducing the amount of sugar in their diets.
At William Morris Primary School, one parent who hadn’t gardened before germinated aubergine seeds at home, brought in the seedlings and transplanted them during gardening club. One of the pupils was inspired by our lessons to plant an orange pip in the school garden, and constructed a watering hose using a McDonalds cup with holes in it.
Links Primary School chose to buy a wormery for the children to see how food waste can be recycled quickly and efficiently. We worked closely with the reception teacher (who came along to the club) to help with her ‘green area’ – consisting of a wildflower area and a sensory garden. A “pop-in culture” developed with the gardening club, where children invited their friends from school, and interest in the club grew organically.
At Lonesome Primary School, children grew potatoes, beans, tomatoes and flowers, and helped create a lovely herb garden. Mushrooms growing around the beds were identified as safely edible and three children gave them a try. We were able to establish a routine with the children, who soon knew what needed to be done each week and became very self-motivated and self-guided. Those children who attended gardening in lesson time invited the rest of the class out to show them their achievements; they did that very well, with a sense of pride. In the playground a derelict raised bed was turned into a herb garden with flowers, and the children designed a sign for it – “Please respect our garden” with an invitation to gardening club. The herb garden was a carrot to get people to drop in and helped to recruit more pupils to club, despite it being on a Friday afternoon. Children were keen to bring in their seeds (planted at the school gate recruitment activity) every week. Two children independently planted apple pips and returned to school with them germinated.