Tag Archive: community


community parkHere’s my sixth extract from the book ‘Noah’s Children’ by Sara Stein. Here she talks about the decline of communities where people (including children) feel that they belong and experience a sense of common purpose:

‘Several times I’ve run into an interesting statistic in the books I read: the people we count as friends- those with whom we comfortably share meals and other forms of visiting- number no more than 150 (and usually fewer)…we seem to be biologically limited to a smallish circle of those whom we can know in a more familiar sense and who we feel know us. The number is about the upper limit of any group that can be sustained by a hunting/gathering economy and not much less than can be sustained by a subistence farming community.

So it may be that, in addition to the fact that residents of a tract development or a block of apartment houses are not assembled in common purpose, the sheer scale of the community may stand in the way of our sense of belonging to it. We seem to realize the importance of social scale for children when we call for smaller classes and smaller schools within the neighbourhood. The trend to gated communities, neighborhood gardens, pocket parks, and local streets closed to traffic indicate our urge to safely congregate where we can consult the social mirror. But for many of us, and possibly for most, the urge is thwarted or was extinguished before it had much chance to grow.

Aware of that difficulty, many have proposed that we teach community and family values in school. The proposal is as hopeless as teaching children what an apple tree is without their experiencing the tree or instructing them on how to fish without going fishing. A sense of community is absorbed through experience of the actual community, just as family values are incorporated within the actual family. So we are left with our good nature flapping raggedly without the pole that once lifted it aloft, and we are lonely…’

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and the wider issues raised…

Old School Gardener

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Some of the volunteers who helped to t idy up the Church Yard on Saturday

Some of the volunteers who helped to tidy up the Church Yard on Saturday

I’ve written before about our local church, St. Peter’s, Haveringland, or ‘The Church in the Fields’. On Saturday I helped tidy up the church yard, which doesn’t have any regular care or attention, particularly since services here now occur only once a month. 

About twenty willing volunteers strimmed (or ‘Whipper – snipped‘ as I believe it’s called in Australia!), raked, weeded and (my own contribution) removed ivy from the church yard walls. In about two hours I managed to clear one wall (see picture below); fortunately there’s only one more that needs the same attention – I will return to finish it soon.

The wall cleaned of its Ivy- and, inadvertently a mouse nest too...

The wall cleaned of its Ivy- and, inadvertently a mouse nest too…

Some years ago an enthusiastic parishioner planted a number of Yews and other conifers around the church yard, and I remember at the time this caused a bit of controversy, as some people (my wife and I included) thought a ‘softer’, more naturalistic  approach to the planting (with wild flowers etc.) might be more appropriate. Well, I must say, 10 plus years on and these trees do add some interest to the church yard and were probably a realistic planting option, giving some shelter to the space and taking into account the limited community/church interest in looking after the area since.

On Saturday I was approached by the (relatively new) local priest who asked if I’d be interested in producing a Management Plan for the church yard. He suggested mown paths through wild flower areas and access to some of the more recent graves, based on a mix of twice yearly maintenance input from contractors, along with periodic voluntary effort like the session on Saturday. I was pleased to hear of his ideas and obvious commitment to keeping the place in good shape and so I agreed to help.

So, watch this space as this new project unfolds and I get to research and develop planting ideas around wild flower meadows (and maybe a couple of areas of self -reliant shrubs and perennials?).

I’d be pleased to hear from anyone with experience or knowledge on this subject – especially with regards to church yards!

Old School Gardener

Win a greenhouse for your School!

What is GYGG?
We’ve teamed up with TV gardener, David Domoney to launch Get Your Grown-ups Growing (GYGG) 2014. We are encouraging schools across the UK to host a GYGG event this October where they invite adults from the local community to help out in the school garden….’

Old School Gardener

Tree Grants for Schools and Community Groupsschool trees

‘Grant applications for the 2014 planting season are now open.

The Tree Council’s Tree Futures offers help for tree planting through two grants programmes, the ‘Trees for Schools‘ and ‘Community Trees‘ funds.  Any school or community group within the UK that is planning a project that actively involves children under 16 is encouraged to draw on the fund to plant trees and make a greener future.

The Tree Council’s National Tree Week (from 29 November to 7 December in 2014) is the focus for these projects and successful applicants organise their planting events in conjunction with our annual celebration of the new tree planting season.

In addition, we are offering funds for fruit tree planting by schools and community groups through our Orchard Windfalls fund, first launched for the 2013 planting season. We are able to fund projects between £100 and £700 and successful applicants will receive up to 75% towards their planting costs. For example, if your project totals £700, The Tree Council would offer up to £525. The remaining 25% will need to be secured by your school or organisation.

With the generous support of an anonymous donor we have been able to produce a Key Stage 1 & 2 teaching and learning resource which will be sent out free of charge to all successful grant applicants. To see taster pages and information about how to purchase the CD ROM please click on this Tree Ties link.’

Old School Gardener

Community Food Growing in a Garden City – New project

‘Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation and the RHS are joining forces in an innovative community-focused programme to create three new sustainable green spaces in the heart of the town.

It is hoped that the project will ultimately be used as a model for how communities, especially those in low-income areas, can best utilise their public green space for food production and to create affordable and attractive areas, which are a benefit to local wildlife as well as the community…..’

Click on link above for more info.

Old School Gardener

Nature Study helps to extend the use of your garden and encourages children to explore habitats beyond the School

Nature Study helps to extend the use of your garden and encourages children to explore habitats beyond the School

Previous posts on school gardening have looked at laying the foundations of a School Garden project, designing your garden and getting the project off the ground. This post looks at how to develop your garden so that it becomes a key resource for the School and wider community.

1. Get into the curriculum

Don’t relegate your garden to just an ‘extra curricular’ activity or club – though these are useful as ways of enhancing the core purpose of your garden: to support children’s learning as part of the school’s curriculum (see 3 below). It might be wise to focus initial garden activity on one or two year groups/classes, so you get the most interested teachers involved (and maybe on your steering group). You can experiment and understand what is working and what isn’t. Once they’ve seen the garden in operation others, including less enthusiastic teachers, will want to get in on the action! Some countries (especially the USA, where School Gardening seems to be well established) have comprehensive curriculum guides for school gardening which link into the wider curriculum of the School.

The recently released draft National Curriculum for UK Schools features children growing plants in the primary years, so this may well give a boost to school gardening and curriculum plans and ideas may follow.There are also some useful guides which enable some basic skills and knowledge to be covered in your gardening activities from some of the national campaigns, especially the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Campaign for School Gardening’  and Garden Organic’s work for the ‘Food for Life’ Partnership.

The school could focus on a theme or topic for a number of weeks (say a half term) and weave the School Garden into this work, which could build on work started off in the classroom. As an example my own local school is focusing on ‘Fairy tales’ this half term and so children are getting involved in sowing turnips and beans with links to specific stories. This approach can also work well for specific science topics like ‘insects and animals’, ‘seeds and germination’ or ‘planting and the seasons’.

Don’t forget the importance of basic gardening skills too – I ‘ve been delivering some sessions on tool safety, use and cleanliness linked into preparing the soil and sowing etc.

It’s also a good idea to keep a lesson plan book to record what has been taught and the results in terms of what did and didn’t work, to aid future planning – it’s important to keep making adjustments and small changes to sessions to keep them interesting, new and relevant.

Basic gardening skills, like how to carry tools safely, are an essential part of the curriculum

Basic gardening skills, like how to carry tools safely, are an essential part of the curriculum

2. Leadership

As the use of the Garden grows, so will the need for a dedicated person to coordinate and manage it – the ‘Garden Coordinator’ or equivalent. This role is a bit like the School Librarian in that they link with all classes as they come into and out of the garden, helping them to make the most of this important resource (and also making some tasty withdrawals at harvest time!). The role is also important in contributing to discussions about the curriculum and ways in which the garden can be used as a key resource for the school’s programme of learning. The Garden Coordinator may well start off as a volunteer, but in due course it may be necessary to make this a paid position. As suggested in a previous post, the ongoing funding required to support this could come from the School Budget, but more likely it will be found (at least in part) from the Parents’/Friends’ Association and possibly supplemented through regular fundraising activities. Another important job for the Garden Coordinator is to facilitate annual evaluations of the garden. Devise a simple but systematic evaluation questionnaire for staff,volunteers and others to complete so that you can reflect and use the information to plan ahead.

3. Go beyond the formal curriculum

The garden should first and foremost be used as part of the school curriculum, but don’t ignore opportunities to deepen its contribution to learning. For example it can be a great place to begin to understand about the local ecosystem and specific habitats – ‘Nature Study’. It’s important to use unexpected opportunities to deepen and enrich the learning going on – e.g. the arrival of a particular insect or animal in the garden or children pulling flowers apart looking for developing seeds. A good way of getting children to strengthen their writing and observational skills is for them to fill out a ‘Garden Diary’ after each visit ro record what they’ve done and seen and any wider lessons learned. These records (probably best to invest in some robust folders that can withstand outside use) can provide a wonderful presentation of achievement over the year and serve to underline the important role the garden plays in school life.

4. Manage your Garden

The Garden Coordinator is the focus for how the garden functions, guiding the different classes in the tasks needed at different times of the year to keep the garden looking good and working well. With their Steering Group/ Committee, they can also organise a few days when more intensive effort is needed and the wider community (especially parents and staff) can get involved. These ‘Garden Gang’ days or their equivalent are the opportunity to get big jobs done – e.g laying paths, constructing glasshouses and sheds, digging over beds, clearing ponds and so on. The Garden Coordinator will also need to produce a weekly schedule of which classes are using the garden and what they will be doing, plus the staff and other support that will be available. Initially children’s excitement at being in the garden will make for a bit of a roller coaster as they are easily distracted by any novel or unusual thing they see, or touch, or smell (I recently had some ‘interesting’ if not unexpected reactions to handling manure for example!). Whilst it is important to try and use these opportunities creatively, the Garden Coordinator and supporting staff should strive towards getting classes into a quiet, focused way of working so that they eventually arrive in the garden, prepare and get on with what they need to do in increasingly ‘self-directed’ mode (especially older children). Some ideas for helping to bring this about include:

  • Dividing the class into manageable groups (say of 6 or 7 for primary years) – this will enable two or more different activities to be rotated around the groups either within a session or from week to week.

  • ‘Digging pit’ – it might be an idea to have a separate space/bed where nothing is grown but where ‘idle hands’ can be directed to dig over the ground –  good for digging practice if nothing else!

  • Recruit parent volunteers  – as well as teachers and learning support assistants it could be useful to get some additional help from willing parents. Make the most of their skills and expertise (as they will probably be interested and knowledgeable gardeners) and if warranted organise a rota so that they come in and work regularly with particular classes or groups. The Garden Coordinator can reach out to parents of reception class children who may be new to the school and are keen to make a positive contribution to their child’s learning. This additional help will make it easier to conduct garden sessions and make for a richer experience for the children (and adults too!).

Children love to dig- set aside an area for digging, to use those idle moments and hone skills!

Children love to dig- set aside an area for digging, to use those idle moments and hone skills!

5. Promote your Garden

So you’ve got the garden underway and you might be feeling pleased with what you’ve achieved. But don’t ‘rest on your laurels’ as the garden will need continuous promotion if you are to retain and increase interest and involvement by the school and wider community. The children are your best advocates – if they’ve enjoyed a session in the garden they’ll mention it at home and so inform and possibly engage parents. Other ideas to try:

  • write a monthly newsletter/ blog or/and contribute to regular School newsletters

  • publish recipes using garden vegetables growing in the garden

  • send home notes abotu what’s been happening in the School Garden and possibly advice for home gardening in a weekly folder

  • arrange an interview with a local newspaper, radio or TV station

  • take over (after asking of course!) a centrally located notice board and pin up student work and photos

  • have a garden party!

Hold a Garden Party to celebrate and promote your plot

Hold a Garden Party to celebrate and promote your plot

6. Broaden the base

Once the basic programmes are in place you can think about how the garden can contribute to the school more generally and also the wider community:

  • A School Gardening Club in which parents are encouraged to join in?

  • Linking with other schools and having visits to/from your garden with activities to encourage students getting to know each other?

  • Several schools sharing an allotment so helping to spread out the workload and resulting in a wider range of food being grown?

  • Use the garden to inspire and present art projects?

  • Poetry competitions based on the garden?

  • A garden reading session where children take out library books and read these in the garden?

  • A science fair focused on the garden?

And think about ways to get students and teachers to broaden their horizons – perhaps explore the ecosystem in the wider area and different types of habitat like riverside, woodland, coastal marshes etc. Teachers can also be encouraged to take part in environmental education training programmes  and so on, including those provided by Garden Organic.

Get your own composting project going

Get your own composting project going

7. Healthy practices

Finally it’s important to develop a set of healthy practices in the garden which will not only benefit it but also lead to important lessons that students and others can take into the future. For example:

  • Wildlife – welcome insects and other ‘critters’ into the garden and use organic or physical means to control them if they get out hand. Good methods include home-made anti-fungal sprays (using garlic and mineral oil), insecticidal soap made from liquid soap (not detergent) and water in a spray bottle,  ‘beer traps’ and ‘wildlife friendly’ pellets or other controls to reduce slugs and snails. And be prepared to tolerate some untidiness and ‘less than perfect’ veg!

  • Soil – use organic principles to develop a healthy soil; never dig it if it’s wet or frosted; find a good source of organic matter to add to the soil a couple of times a year (make your own compost, get donations of horse or farmyard manure); nurture the organisms in the soil by ensuring that it is never too dry – a mulch will help; once a good soil has been built up try not to dig it or turn it over (unless it’s very heavy of course)- just layering compost/manure and adding mulch (‘no till’ or ‘lasagna gardening’) is less work and is kinder to the insects and other animals working your soil; use cover crops to keep the soil protected over winter and possibly add fertiliser (‘green manure’); set up and actively manage a compost project in the garden ( in the UK possibly seek help from a ‘Master Composter to get you going) – or alternatively set up a worm (or vermi) composting project which is less intensive than traditional compost – making.

  • Plants – use organic plant foods such as ‘Fish, blood and bone’ or make your own ‘compost tea’ in bag of used compost mixed with water or using plants such as Comfrey or nettles steeped in water for a few weeks.

What's your favourite tipple? Beer traps are effective at controlling slugs and snails

What’s your favourite tipple? Beer traps are effective at controlling slugs and snails

Hopefully, these tips will help to set your School Garden on a fun, effective and healthy course.  In my final post I’ll try to point up some good ideas to enrich and expand your School Gardening programme further – a sort of ‘Master Class’ for school gardening.

Other posts in the series:

Growing Children 3: Seven tips for creating your dream School Garden

Growing Children 2: Seven Design tips for your School Garden

Growing Children 1: School Garden start up in Seven Steps

School Gardening – reconnecting children and Nature

Source & Further information:

How to grow a School Garden’ – Arden Bucklin-Spooner and Rachel Kathleen Pringle, Timber Press Books

School Gardening Club- ideas

Budding Gardeners- lots of advice and info

Garden planner tool

Planning your school garden

Food & Agriculture Organisation School Garden Planner

California School Garden Network Guide to School Gardening

School Gardening Wizard

School garden fundraising

Garden Organic support for schools

Old School Gardener

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School gardening - old style!

School gardening – old style!

Previous posts in this series about School Gardening have set out some ideas for starting up and designing your school garden project. Having got some foundations in place and a design that’s ready to go, how do you put it into practice? Here are seven tips for creating your dream School Garden.

1. Phasing – so you have ambitious ideas for the design and use of your garden, but perhaps you might be trying to bite off a little too much at once? Think about the levels of volunteer help, promises of materials and cash to hand and tailor your plans accordingly. Sure, strive for your dream, but maybe tackle it in manageable chunks. You can think about parts of the garden that need creating first – say the paths and basic border/bed layout. Add on’s like an orchard or pond could come later? It might be useful to spread these elements  over a few years, perhaps identifying a major project for each year which can focus fundraising and community effort and help to keep the energy and momentum up when enthusiasm wanes.

Children digging in

Children digging in

2. Digging in – the first practical day of activity – or ‘groundbreaking’ – is an important event. Make sure it’s both productive and fun. You want to encourage children and the wider community to become committed and involved in the long term. It’s probably best to get any heavy work that involves earth moving or bigger construction done before the official launch day to avoid too many people, machinery and activities on it at once. This will also help to ensure that your main community effort can leave the launch event feeling that they’ve really contributed something worthwhile. Planning for the launch day is important too – think about and order the tools and materials you’ll need and where these should be placed to ensure safe and efficient working.

Local businesses can be involved in creating the garden

Local businesses can be involved in creating the garden

3. Community input communicate your plans, both short and longer term, to the school and wider community so that you get boots on the ground for your  ‘Groundbreaking’ event. Plan and organise the various tasks that need doing on the day and have people who can lead groups of volunteers on each activity. Put someone in charge of allocating volunteers to the different tasks as they turn up – a sort of triage. Having a range of tasks available is useful to cope with children and adults with different types and levels of skill (and strength) – tree planting, raised bed construction, soil shifting, path making etc.  Maybe you can get extra help from local companies or organisations to add importance as well as ‘muscle’ to the day – how about your local fire station (even better if they can bring along a fire engine) or give a local firm a chance to promote themselves and give something to the community?

For the day itself perhaps have a novel twist that will grab local media interest – could you include a competition for children to see who can create the best signs or pictures of the new garden, and perhaps something fun for adults – the best dressed gardener?! Plan ahead for further workdays or ‘Garden Gang’ events – identify the key tasks that need doing and as with your launch event make sure you organ ise your volunteers effectively on the day, with all the materials and tools needed to hand. Possibly cultivate local business input so that specific skills you need can be brought in – e.g,. a local nursery helping with pruning fruit trees, landscapers/builders willing to help install fencing, etc. In some parts of the UK the ‘Mastergardener’ and ‘Mastercomposter’ programmes are able to offer voluntary support to schools and the community to grow their own food.

Tools will need to be repaired or replaced

Tools will need to be repaired or replaced

4. Money managing – you may have enough cash and other resources for your launch day, but it’s also wise to think longer term and consider the ongoing costs and expenses that will need to be funded once the garden is up and running. A key issue is the ‘Garden Coordinator’ or lead person. Is she/he a willing volunteer or do you need to find some means of payment, either as member of staff or a small ‘honorarium’ to recognise the regular commitment that will be needed? You’ll also need funds to repair and replace tools (some will inevitably get lost). So have a small fund dedicated to this, though it may be in the first year or two this can be quite small.

Odd items of infrastructure will also need to be replaced, repaired or acquired as the use of the garden develops; e.g. shelving for the greenhouse, tables for potting, and the ongoing supply of compost, grit or whatever else your particular garden needs to keep it operating. All of these ongoing costs need to be budgeted for and ideally a source of funding identified so that major fundraising efforts can be focused on more significant projects. The School Budget may be a source of this funding, but it’s likely that you’ll need to call on the Parents’/Friends’ Association, local charities, company sponsorship etc. to meet at least some of the ongoing expenses.

5. Fundraising – if you’ve decided to phase your project then you’ll need to plan ahead for the funding and other ‘in kind’ support you’ll need to achieve the later elements of the garden. So some sort of fundraising effort is likely to be required on an ongoing basis and it might be sensible to put someone in charge of this, ideally someone with the skills to put together applications for funding to public/ charitable sources as well as ongoing campaigns that can focus on raising cash via the school and local community – local lottery games and fundraising events (quizzes, fireworks, cake sales) for example. Could you also ask parents to make an annual donation to the garden?

Steering Group meetings are essential

Steering Group meetings are essential

6. Steering the project – by now the real movers and shakers behind your project should have identified themselves and these people need to be nurtured into your active committee/steering group for the Garden. Regular, focused meetings to discuss progress and plans will be needed, but avoid these becoming too formal and bureaucratic. You need to ensure that those giving their time to the project feel that they are contributing and are valued, so make your meetings pleasant social events as well as efficient at tackling the business – side of things. It’s also important to keep the garden relevant to the curriculum, so regularly review how it’s being or could be used to enhance the learning at the school and possibly encourage teachers and others to develop their skills through training or attending specific workshops on school gardening.

Plant and produce sales can raise cash for the garden and celebrate its achievements

Plant and produce sales can raise cash for the garden and celebrate its achievements

7. Celebrate – not only should your launch or groundbreaking event be a celebration of what’s been achieved and what’s planned, but it’s important to regularly celebrate the garden as key milestones are reached. Providing food and drink on events is one way of oiling the wheels and making events an enjoyable community gathering (especially if parents and the community don’t have many other opportunities to get together locally). Keeping local media interested in your project is also important as reporting in local newspapers, radio, tv and increasingly the internet all affirm the value of the project. As they say ‘nothing succeeds like success’!

The School website or blog could have regular posts about activity in the garden (maybe you’ll need someone to take responsibility for this aspect of things) and regular email updates to publicise events and fundraising are a must. ‘Sending a note home’ with a child is perhaps notoriously unreliable as a way of communicating with parents, so maybe think of more novel ways of getting the message across – a stall to sell plants and produce from the Garden and present infotrmation about it’s achievements at the School summer fair, or displays  of children’s work in the School which can be seen at parent’s evenings and other events, for example.

So by now the garden should be well into ‘start up’ mode and will be the talk of the School and local area! In the next post in this series I’ll be offering some advice on good practices for developing your School Garden into an effective learning and community resource.

Let's get gardening!

Let’s get gardening!

Other posts in the series:

Growing Children 2: Seven Design tips for your School Garden

Growing Children 1: School Garden start up in Seven Steps

School Gardening – reconnecting children and Nature

Sources & Further information:

How to grow a School Garden’ – Arden Bucklin-Spooner and Rachel Kathleen Pringle, Timber Press Books

School Gardening Club- ideas

Budding Gardeners- lots of advice and info

Garden planner tool

Planning your school garden

Food & Agriculture Organisation School Garden Planner

California School Garden Network Guide to School Gardening

School Gardening Wizard

School garden fundraising

Old School Gardener

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post and others on this blog, why not comment and join others by signing up for automatic updates via email (see side bar, above right ) or through an RSS feed (see top of page)?

MartineauGardens_homepage

The Green Flag Award® scheme is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the UK. It was first launched in 1996 to recognise and reward the best green spaces in the country.

The first awards were given in 1997 and, many years later, it continues to provide the benchmark against which our parks and green spaces are measured. It is also seen as a way of encouraging others to achieve high environmental standards, setting a benchmark of excellence in recreational green areas.

Entries for the Green Flag Award® are open to parks/green spaces located in the UK. We are also currently piloting the scheme in The Netherlands and Germany.

To apply go to Green Flag Award website

 

Old School Gardener

child with wheellbarrowAcross the developed world there is concern about a growing ‘disconnect’ between children and the natural world around them – increased time spent indoors, less time out playing – the scenario is well reported. School gardening projects are an important way to reconnect children with nature.

School gardening, like ‘growing your own’ seems to be on the increase in the UK as we look for ways of bridging the ‘ecological disconnect’, saving money, reducing ‘food miles’, improving food quality and strengthening local economies. There’s powerful evidence that school gardening is one, convenient and effective way of ‘learning outside the classroom’. A way of helping to engage children with the natural world and to deal effectively with some other important issues at the same time by:

  • raising academic achievement
  • promoting healthy eating
  • instilling a sense of responsibility for the world around us
  • encouraging social and community development and a ‘sense of place’
  • providing a place for unstructured, imaginative play

In Norfolk, England, the voluntary group of Mastergardeners is playing its part in supporting around 20 schools and many others are waiting to connect with a suitably trained volunteer in their area to develop new school gardening initiatives.

I’ve been helping a primary school to develop its school garden, which now has several raised planting beds (one for each class) and a recently completed wildlife pond with dipping platform and boggy planting areas. I tried to engage the children in growing food with a short session about the food they like to eat and where it comes from, why growing our own is important and the different types of fruit and veg we could grow. We ended up with each child making their own paper pot and sowing a broad bean seed – these were later transferred by the children to the school garden and formed a wonderful source of ‘free sweets’ during the summer!

making paper pots - an easy way to get children involved in 'growing their own'

Making paper pots – an easy way to get children involved in ‘growing their own’

The whole community– governors, staff, parents, children, local businesses together with ‘shopping voucher’ and grant schemes have played their part in creating this valuable resource. The new gardening year is about to kick off with a ‘Garden Gang’ (parents, children, staff and friends of the school) session on Saturday to get the beds ready, complete the greenhouse (made out of canes and plastic bottles) and plant some new apple trees.

Other Mastergardeners are playing their parts around the County. This includes several new and more established gardens at secondary and primary schools and a novel ‘inter – generational’ project in Norwich, where some spare ground behind a library has been turned into a food growing plot by children from a local school, library staff and older people from a sheltered housing scheme overlooking the site.

One secondary school gardening coordinator recently wanted to introduce children to the ideas of ‘veg families‘ and crop rotation. She printed out 56 small veg pictures and separate names – the first task was for the students to ID the veg. Then they looked at veg families (with the students placing  the different vegetables into different groups ) –  then they used their computers to create their own set of ‘Veg family prints’. Finally, they looked at crop rotation and by the end of the session they had come up with a basic 4 bed rotation over 4 years, along with a write-up explaining about why we rotate crops yearly.

school gardening a century ago- birth of the 'kindergarten'

School gardening a century ago- birth of the ‘kindergarten’

School gardening has been around a long time – originally developing as part of the formal school curriculum at a time when many more households grew their own food. There were war – time efforts to boost food production at schools and the ‘Kindergarten’ movement saw playing and being creative in an outdoor setting as the heart of nursery education.

school gardening in wartime- US style

School gardening in war time- US style

Recently in the UK the Food Growing in Schools Taskforce, led by Garden Organic was established as a response to increasing concerns about the health and well-being of children and young people, and a confidence that food growing in schools is a successful way of dealing with these concerns, delivering many benefits. The Taskforce is made up of people representing a diverse set of interests, but all with a strong belief that food growing in schools is an important activity. You can read their findings here.

Getting the whole community involved in the school garden

Getting the whole community involved in the school garden

Over the coming weeks I plan to post a series of articles about how to go about setting up and developing a school garden, so if you have any experiences or ideas to share I’d love to hear from you!

Old School Gardener

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