Tag Archive: Garden Organic


wp_20161126_12_45_09_proI attended a celebration for the Norfolk Master Composters on Saturday. It’s ten years since the project was established, jointly run by Garden Organic and Norfolk County Council.

Several hundred volunteers have been trained up as ambassadors of compost making and waste reduction and they’ve delivered thousands of hours of advice to schools, communities and households, making Norfolk one of the most ‘compost friendly’ places in Britain.

Held at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Norwich, the celebration heard kind words from County Councillor Martin Wilby and Chief Executive of Garden Organic, James Campbell.

wp_20161126_12_46_14_proCertificates of hours served were also handed out, including one to longest serving volunteer George Muttby, who joined at the beginning of the project in 2006 and has committed over 300 hours of his time to the cause. He spoke passionately about his work with his local Primary School and how government needs to change legislation to make it easier for schools and other institutions to compost and recycle their waste.

wp_20161126_13_10_15_proIt was also an opportunity to have a tour of the interesting garden next to the Cathedral (I’ll be doing a separate post about this) and the cathedral itself, including clambering up narrow stairways to walk inside the nave roof, around the high gallery at the crossing point and up to the top of the tower, from where we had a wonderful view across Norwich to the coast and surrounding countryside.

We had a chance to make some christmas decorations too and had a tasty lunch to follow with a piece of the celebration cake to finish.

Here’s to the next 10 years!

Old School Gardener

 

Where's Wally? 250 Master Gardeners and Composters (including me) line up for the annual group photo

Where’s Wally? 250 Master Gardeners and Composters (including me) line up for the annual group photo

It was an early start- 5.45.a.m to be precise. Having travelled into Norwich and boarded a coach, we set off for Ryton Gardens, near Coventry. Garden Organic’s HQ, formerly known as the ‘Henry Doubleday Research Association’ in honour of the pioneer organic grower, presents a rich mix of gardens aimed at informing, educating and inspiring gardeners in the ‘organic way’.

I attended the annual ‘Masters Conference’ last year and got to see the gardens for the first time too. This year’s visit was equally interesting and energising, not least due to the concentration of 250 plus growing and composting enthusiasts in one place for the full day conference.

No, not a set from 'Dr. Who', just a display of 'dalek' and other types of compost bin!

No, not a set from ‘Dr. Who’, just a display of ‘dalek’ and other types of compost bin!

Garden Organic do things right – a highly professional outfit, with some world class credentials when it comes to research and education in organic growing, they value their volunteers, and this shows. Little, but important touches like personalised ‘goody bags’, name badges and schedules as well as the cheery welcome from the large number of staff and volunteers around helped to make the day a big success. And of course there are the annual awards, lots of cake and coffee and the group photo that all bind this volunteer community together in their ‘crusade’ for food growing and composting.

One of two Cakes specially made to celebrate the conference-a masterly effort from a Norfiolk Cake maker!

One of two Cakes specially made to celebrate the conference-a masterly effort from a Norfolk Cake maker!

It was interesting finding more out about community composting, some of the ‘goodies’ in the garden (as far as bugs are concerned) and of how projects are using food growing to reach communities that find it difficult to fully engage with society for various reasons.There were also some wonderful tales of Master Gardeners and Composters from around the country who are helping people not only to grow food, but to ‘grow’ themselves! And several of these were from Norfolk.

Apart from the chance to look round the gardens once more, the highlight was veteran naturalist Chris Baines, who gave an inspiring talk about how important it is to create parks, gardens and other green spaces in an increasingly urbanised world to help keep cities cool, air clean, provide habitats for wildlife and psychological respite from living and working places that will in all probability become ever more hectic, hassled and hot! He shared some encouraging signs that developers are starting to integrate such features as ‘rain gardens’ and other nature havens in their plans.

Further information:

Ryton Gardens

Garden Organic

Master Gardener

Master Composter/ Home Composting

Old School Gardener

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IMG_7431To Walter Degrasse

30th September 2013

Dear Walter,

September has been a month of relative quiet in Old School Garden. Summer has tipped into Autumn and the garden hasn’t needed (?wishful thinking) full throttle attention. The odd weed pulled up, flowers dead headed or staked, hedges trimmed, grass mown (less frequently and less closely). A typical September then, apart from the relatively cold spell we had earlier on which sent me to the wood shed and led to lighting of fires – albeit only once or twice. Still I resisted the temptation to switch on the central heating! Since then we seem to have had something of a mini ‘Indian summer’.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how some annuals I planted earlier on have at last come good – Cleome, Cosmos, Nicotiana and Tithonia in particular. A slow start, but they seem to have gone for a sprint finish so to speak! They are looking very good alongside some other late summer perennial colours – Asters, Sedums and Aconitum. And I’m pleased to say that last year’s sowings of Phalaris (‘Chinese Lanterns’) have now turned into beefier plants, just starting to show off their wonderful papery orange ‘lanterns’.

I’ve continued to harvest  various fruit and veg – Chard is now reaching maturity, Tomatoes, Lettuces and Cucumbers have done really well, and some late sowings of Carrots and Mangetout are looking promising. You may recall that I sowed three seeds of ‘Greek Squash’ sent to me by the Garden Organic Heritage Seed Library – two of these have gone on to produce four or five good-sized squashes, which are now hardening off in the autumn sunshine. Oh, and remember my caterpillar disaster with the Calabrese and Broccoli plants last month? Well, I’ve cleared the bed, and managed to get hold of some young plants of Chinese Broccoli and Spinach, so along with some of my own Red Cabbage seedlings we now have that area once more in production – hopefully they’ll all put on good growth before the onset of winter.

The first windfall apples have been falling in some strong breezes recently. We’ve been collecting some of these as well as early pickings directly from the trees, and very tasty they are too! I can see that the next couple of weeks will be consumed with apple harvesting, and that of course raises the question of where to store them! Our larder could soon be a lot fuller.

Further afield in my gardening life, I’m pleased to say that the six week Garden Design course I put on last year is once again up and running, with 8 enthusiastic students with a wide range of garden sizes and ideas that I hope to help them develop in the coming weeks. I’ve also planned a one day workshop at nearby Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse where I hope to show people how to get more from their garden through using some of the key elements of garden design. It will also be fun using the gardens at the Museum to illustrate some of these, as i designed some and help to maintain them as a volunteer. As I speak I’m hopeful, too, that the six week beginners course on ‘Growing Your Own’ at nearby Foulsham, will also be viable, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

I’ve also started back with my support of gardening and ‘learning outside the classroom’ at the local primary school. I’ve been encouraged by the way the school – and particularly their LOTC Coordinator, is building on the progress we made last year. Over the first half term I’m taking a series of small groups from most classes through some of the basics such as introducing different types of tool and how to use them safely; the importance of clearing and preparing the soil during the autumn; harvesting some of the produce we planted last season (there are some seriously impressive carrots that seem to have thrived on neglect!); gathering different types of seed for next year; how different plants propagate themselves and sowing broad beans, garlic and onions as well as some green manures.  The School is also carrying out an international project on composting and organic gardening to which I’m contributing. So a busy half term! It’s always great working with such enthusiastic youngsters, reawakening my own sense of wonder at nature as they dig over the soil and are delighted to discover worms, grubs and creepy crawlies!

On Saturday I went to Garden Organic’s HQ at Ryton, near Coventry, for their annual conference for Master Gardeners and Composters. Around 30 of my colleagues from Norfolk went along and were joined by over 200 other Master Gardeners and Composters from a number of other areas around the country. It was a very interesting and inspiring day. I attended some workshops on community composting, reaching ‘hard to reach’ communities and ‘love your bugs’- all about the goodies and baddies in the garden. Most inspiring was a talk by veteran naturalist Chris Baines, looking at ‘The Nature of the Future’. I’ll do a fuller article on this event later in the week, but here are a couple of pics from the ‘Naturalistic’ area of the gardens, which looked wonderful – as did the many other different gardens which demonstrate a range of gardening techniques and planting arrangements.

So, old friend, that just about brings you up to date for the last few weeks in my gardening life at Old School Garden and beyond. A mellow and measured time when its been possible to enjoy the late summer colour and reap the fruits (and veg) of my labours earlier in the year! No doubt you’re well ahead of me with your autumn garden jobs, but in case you’re not and need some ideas, I’ll be posting my regular monthly item on tasks in the garden for the new month tomorrow, so I hope that proves useful. Happy Gardening!

Old School Gardener

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Heritage Veg- keeping the old varieties going

Heritage Veg- keeping the old varieties going

I had an interesting delivery in the post yesterday. It was from Garden Organic, the UK charity that promotes organic gardening. Some of you may recall that I’m a volunteer with the ‘Master Gardener’ programme they jointly run in Norfolk and a few other places, providing advice, information and support to people starting to grow their own food. More recently I became a ‘Master Composter’ doing the same thing but focused on recycling green waste into a useful gardening product. Well, it seems that this has enabled me to have free membership of the ‘Heritage Seed Library’ (HSL) run by Garden Organic at their base near Coventry.

seeds in handThe HSL aims to conserve and make available vegetable varieties that are not widely accessible. It does this by maintaining a collection of vegetables from the UK and Northern Europe that are not readily available in seed catalogues. Some of these varieties were commercially available once but have now disappeared from catalogues and seed lists. Others have never been offered in catalogues but have been developed by gardeners and passed on through the generations until they were donated to the HSL. There are also some varieties that have a special local significance. Many have a story to tell, and HSL collects not only the seed, but also information on their characteristics, methods of use, origins, and what this can tell us about our gardening and culinary heritage. Just flipping through their current catalogue is a journey into the past with varieties carrying evocative names like:

Navy Bean Edmund – a variety of bean first cultivated to sustain Australian forces during WWII and which is the kind used to create ‘baked beans’.

Long Blood Red– an American Beetroot described by Vilmorin in ‘The Vegetable Garden’ (1885) as an ‘American variety with a long, slender, deeply buried root..good, productive, and well-coloured kind’ – a member of HSL describes it as having ‘the best flavour, wonderful for picking’.

Maltese plum – a variety of tomato donated by someone whose friend acquired the seeds on holiday in Malta! Trusses are borne on leaf spurs, so unlike many other varieties you don’t grow it as a cordon or remove the side shoots. This is a late variety that produces a heavy crop of firm, red plum type tomatoes ideal for stuffing.

What varieties of Veg do you grow?

Which varieties of Veg do you grow?

The HSL is not a gene bank, so does not preserve the seeds in cold storage, but grow them and make them available to other gardeners so that they remain alive and able to adapt to new conditions. Any new characteristics then have a good chance of being spotted and made use of. The HSL was created in response to the loss of old vegetable varieties that occurred following European legislation designed to counteract the activities of some unscrupulous seed companies. After the commercialisation  of seeds in the 19th century the traditional practice of farmers and gardeners exchanging seeds declined. European law says that only seed that is listed on a National List (and ultimately the EU Common Catalogue) can be marketed. To be on the list a variety must go through a series of tests, part of which is about ensuring consistency between generations. The tests both cost money and were impractical for many smaller seed companies, so many varieties started to disappear, especially those that are inherently highly variable.

With the costs incurred in breeding and maintaining a variety, a large, profitable market is needed by commercial seed companies. This means that they often decide against maintaining varieties suitable for ‘niche markets’, e.g. gardeners, in favour of those more acceptable to large-scale growers. The varieties available are therefore more likely to ripen at the same time to make harvesting with machinery easier, tough enough to withstand travel and handling in supermarkets, and familiar in visual characteristics so that they are acceptable to the average shopper. Flavour often takes a back seat.

The HSL runs a membership scheme to help to distribute seeds and counteract the costs of the EU legislation. Members pay an annual fee which goes towards the costs of collecting, growing, storing and distributing the seed. HSL produce articles on seed saving, research and the latest developments on the international seed scene in ‘ The Organic Way’, the Garden Organic members’ magazine. Every winter they also send out a Catalogue covering a portion of the collection- members can choose up to six packets  containing a few seeds of different varieties to try out for themselves. HSL is also active in promoting seed exchanges around the country.

The HSL currently looks after 800 varieties of Heritage Veg seeds

The HSL currently looks after 800 varieties of Heritage Veg seeds

Currently HSL looks after over 800 types of seed from open-pollinated varieties (not F1 hybrids), of which around 200 are detailed in their Seed Catalogue. As well as research on the varieties and testing of previously untried varieties that come in from time to time, HSL grow some of the seed used at Garden Organic’s HQ. More seed is grown by Seed Guardians – special members who volunteer their resources to look after and bulk up selected varieties. These are then available for distribution to HSL members.

The collection is still expanding. Every year HSL receive samples of vegetable seed that gardeners have been looking after and keeping alive. They ask a lot of questions about each one to determine its place in our culture and then conduct our trials on it, taking notes and making assessments throughout its growing life to find out as much as possible about it. This gives HSL the opportunity to ensure that it is different to anything else they are looking after, not obviously diseased, has not crossed (and is not a hybrid) and is something gardeners would be interested in growing. If HSL decide it is something they should be keeping they add it to the collection, so there’s always something new coming in. You can find out more about the HSL and download a seed saving guide at their website- see link below.

This is my first exploration of ‘Heritage Veg’ and the inclusion of a small sample of Greek Squash seed will give me a chance to sample an unusual variety for myself – if I can find the room for it in the kitchen garden, that is!

Taylor's SeedsCo-incidentally, last week I was also involved in another aspect of ‘Heritage Seeds’, the opening of a special exhibition at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse museum, Norfolk. Next to the Museum’s Cherry Tree Cottage Garden (which is designed to be a re-creation of a typical Norfolk cottage garden of the 1930’s), a new space is devoted to displaying various interesting objects from one of Norfolk’s historic seed merchants. R. & A. Taylor, whose Seed Shop in King’s Lynn once provided a wide range of seeds and other ‘horticultural sundries’ to the County’s gardeners.

Over two years of research culminated in the official opening of the new display last week. This captures something of the seed shop as it would have been in the 1930’s and is also home to a significant collection of objects and other material donated to the Museum by the Taylor family in 1982. The present curator, Megan Dennis, and founder curator, Bridget Yates, also wanted the new display to provide a new focus for the museum’s gardening collections. The display was officially opened by James and Bob Taylor, who worked with their father in the family business in Norfolk Street, Kings Lynn. It was a happy day and the new display provides a fascinating range of objects and information for all ages.

I particularly like the material about School Gardening as it used to be carried out in the 1920’s – a solid part of the curriculum, but with a strict gender bias that is true in some households today: the boys grow the vegetables and the girls tend the flowers!

Sources and further information:

Garden Organic Heritage Seed Library and link to pdf on Seed Saving

The Breckland View– article on the Seed Shop display and background

Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum

Master Gardener

Home composting

Old School Gardener

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PicPost: Bin Laden

Decorated Compost Bin Competition
Winners Announced!!

David Garrett from Garden Organic explaing how a 'Hot Bin' works

David Garrett from Garden Organic explaining how a ‘Hot Bin’ works

Since the beginning of the month local councils are having to pay around £100 per tonne of waste they dump in holes in the ground in Norfolk. Increases in the tax charged on ‘landfill’ (which makes up around 75% of the total charge) are becoming a significant cost to hard – pressed councils and by implication local Council Tax payers. So, in addition to the prime environmental reasons for diverting waste away for landfill, there is now an increasingly important economic driver. And this charge – which is planned to increase in years to come – could eventually help to make it economically viable to recycle a lot more of the stuff we stick in the ground – yoghurt pots and other hard plastics for example.

And the holes in the ground that readily lend themselves to landfill are also drying up, leading to controversial proposals for incineration plants which can generate useful heat at the same time. It is clear that reducing waste , re – using or recycling what we can, makes financial and environmental sense. This was the key message from a two day training course I attended last week, which now means that I can play my part in promoting sustainable approaches to waste – in my case and the 18 others who joined me on the training, as a ‘Master Composter’. In my case I don’t pretend to be an expert, as the title perhaps implies, more of an enthusiast expanding my knowledge and able to pass some of this on to others who can be convinced to recycle their green and food waste into ‘black gold’ – or compost for the garden if you like!

The local Master Composter scheme is run as a partnership between Garden Organic and Norfolk County Council and aims  to:

  • raise awareness of the benefits of composting to the public

  • encourage more people to compost at home

  • help those already composting to do so more effectively

  • encourage and support more community composting schemes

Those delivering the scheme are expected to give at least 30 hours of their time to preparing and delivering information and advice at events, to individuals, schools or to community composting schemes. There is a wealth of support and resources available to help in this including three sets of display materials, leaflets and rather natty digital microscopes so that you can see the mini creatures creating compost before your eyes – these are bound to be a hit with children and adults alike!

In the classroom- some of the trainee Master Composters

In the classroom- some of the trainee Master Composters

The two day training was inspiring , informative and lot of fun. After some introductory remarks about the scheme we were invited (‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ style), to take part in a quiz to focus on the sorts of mind boggling amounts of waste, money and other resources involved in the disposal and processing of household waste. We were then introduced to the different types of larger scale composting:

  • Centralised large scale purpose run, mainly open air facilities where large amounts of green and other organic waste are regularly turned and high temperatures achieved to produce a crumbly black material great as a soil improver
  • ‘In vessel’ or indoor facilities where material is once again handled on a large scale and the ‘cooking’ process begins inside before the material is transferred outside for ‘maturation’
  • On farm composting where farmers will create their own compost heaps from agricultural and animal waste
  • Community composting schemes where local groups offer to collect green waste from households, create compost at a central site and then give the resulting product back to eager gardeners

After a wholesome lunch we were whisked off to see two sites that rammed home the importance of composting, one landfill site the other an ‘in vessel’ composting unit.

Edgefield Land fill site- coming to the end of its life

Edgefield Land fill site- coming to the end of its life

 Edgefield Landfill site in north Norfolk, has been operating a good few years and is focused on filling in holes in the ground left by quarrying. Now into its last few months of life, this site shows how landfill practices have developed over the years. Once these holes were unlined and the ‘leachate‘ (nasty liquid) running away from the rubbish was allowed to do so without any monitoring or control, so the area’s water courses were expected to somehow deal with the poison seeping into them. Now plastic sheeting is laid in the holes and careful measures taken to both monitor the release of leachate and methane gas as well as drawing both of these substances off, the leachate going for reprocessing at a sewage treatment works, the gas used on site to power  an electricity generator which is contributing power to the national grid. As we stood atop the windy mound of rubbish already topped off with soil we could see the open scar of the remaining tip which is due to be finished off in the next couple of months at which point the site will be closed, grassed over, trees planted and monitoring continued.

Our second visit was to the Marsham Composting Facility of Norfolk Environmental Waste Services (‘NEWS’ – a wholly owned company of the County Council). This impressive complex (not far from Old School Garden in fact) has been open about a year and takes in green and food waste collected by local District Councils  and others (who are charged for the amount they dump). I turns it into soil improver which is virtually all sold to a local farmer for use on his fields – and he is impressed with the results, it seems.

Waste material is dumped inside the main building where it is heaped against wooden barriers and the process of activation is started. Temperatures of 60C are achieved and once this process is well underway the material is moved outside into various bays where air is drawn through it by fan- assisted pipes and the cooking process continues until eventually temperatures die down to achieve the final product, which is collected in tractor – towed trailers and deposited on fields or in farmyard dumps awaiting the right time to apply it. The first facility of its kind locally, there seems to be scope for more as green and food waste collection increases. It would be great if the public could roll up and fill their own trailers with this ‘black gold’ – I’ve used something similar on my garden and it not only does great things to the soil, it also is dark enough to act as an attractive foil for the greens and other colours of the garden.

 

The second day of the training began with an overview of the composting process. A jigsaw of location, organic raw material, heat, water and air combine to produce a chemical reaction which decays and decomposes the green material and encourages a host of micro organisms plus other ‘critters’ who contribute most to this process. We also had a fun exercise exploring how to ‘sell’ the benefits of composting to a range of different ‘characters’ (I pretended to be a female student who was keen to do her bit to manage her own waste!). We distinguished between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ composting, the former where relatively large amounts of material are brought togetehr at once to generate high temperatures and the composting process is relatively fast, the latter more suited to smaller scale, occasional additions of organic waste and which takes longer. Ideally, you need to ‘turn’ your organic material in ‘hot’ composting and don’t in the ‘cold’ system.

After lunch two experienced Master Composters, Russell and Mary Baylin, described their experiences, which included representing the Master Composters at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Party last year! Becoming Master Composters in 2007, this couple are clearly dedicated to the whole composting cause, having been involved in many events around the county and working with schools and individuals to help them make the most of their green waste.

Russell and Mary Baylin, experienced Master Composters

Russell and Mary Baylin, experienced Master Composters

We went on to examine the range of opportunities for ‘getting the message across’ as Master Composters as well as rehearsing the sorts of answers we might give to frequently asked questions. So, for example, we know that compost is ready when its is dark in colour has little or no smell, is crumbly and relatively fine in texture, and we can use it to mulch important, hungry plants as well as a more general soil improver, maybe as a top-dressing to lawns  and in potting mixes.

 

The afternoon concluded with an examination of different types of composting boxes/ equipment – including a wormery (from which you get not only lovely fine worm – cast compost, but also a liquid fertiliser) a japanese style composter called a Bokashi (involving the intermingling of a special bran meal with green waste) and the latest ‘hot box’ being developed to fast process whole bin loads of material in a few weeks. We examined the pros and cons of each kind and who they might suit. I’m hopeful that my local school, can get a Wormery as way of using up the fruit, salad and other food waste from school lunches for example.

 

Following a quick tour of the gardens at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum (our base for the two days) and a look at their larger scale composting facility, including leaf mould and loam making, we gathered up our folders, tee shirts and other resources and began to ponder how we can make the biggest impact on composting in Norfolk. I’m expecting to help my local primary school with its composting activities and we begin this on Thursday with a session with older children to look at composting and what the school already does, including engaging the School Cook to see if we can compost more kitchen waste to use in the School gardens! I’ll let you know how I get on!

Thanks to Garden Organic and Norfolk County Council Staff who made for such an enjoyable and useful event: Jane, the 2 Davids, Amanda and Alex

Old School Gardener

P.S. It’s International Composting Awareness Week on 6th – 12th May – decorate your own compost bin and win a prize! 

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Cool Composting

Source: ‘The Organic Way’, magazine of Garden Organic, Spring 2013

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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