Much Woolton Primary
The pupils of Year 5, with the support of their teacher Mr Strode, and myself, formed a gardening club before Christmas 2016. An area that had previously been used for growing fruit and vegetables had been neglected for some time, and was infested with Horsetail, so the first task was to clear the ground. Ideas for the plot were discussed, and eventually a plan was drawn up for the refurbishment, which included new raised beds, a new tool shed and a host of new crops.
The school were able to contribute some funding for the garden, and the PTA also made a generous donation, together with Barclays bank. Lengths of timber, heavy duty weed control membrane, top soil, compost, tools and seeds were purchased in the Spring. The gardening club members took measurements of the site and cut heavy duty weed control membrane into appropriate lengths, before laying them out and pinning them down.
Mr Murphy, the school site manager, kindly constructed the new raised beds and spent time with Mr Strode, and even Head Teacher Mr White, barrowing the top soil from where it was dropped by the delivery wagon into the beds!
The club members incorporated the compost into the top soil in the beds, and then seeds and plug plants were sown and planted out. Calendula and Sunflower seeds were sown as companion plants, and seed potatoes were planted in grow-bags. Cane structures were also erected to support the runner beans.
Each week the pupils weeded the plot, and ensured the crops were watered daily, if necessary. By the end of the academic year the club members were able to harvest peas, lettuce, potatoes, radish and runner beans.
Despite cold and wet weather at times, the club members consistently attended sessions, and there were numerous benefits to each pupil. They all developed teamwork skills, became physically fitter, spent time outdoors in the fresh air (away from smart phones and iPads!), learnt about life cycles, tasted fresh food that they'd nurtured, and engaged with their surroundings whilst developing a sense of responsibility and confidence. They were a brilliant group to work with, and their enthusiasm, and that of teacher Mr Strode, was a credit to Much Woolton Primary School.