Since its launch in 2013, the Cultivation Street campaign has expanded to support hundreds of school and community gardening projects across the UK. It is now a thriving hub for gardeners to share stories, top tips and advice as well as access a plethora of free resources to enhance their gardening projects. For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we take a look at one of the school competition entries from 2018.
Midfield Primary School, entered by Shelley Kimber
Started in March 2015, this school’s edible eco-garden focuses on food-growing and composting. It has a huge impact on the local children, who mostly live in flats and have no outdoor space at home, and especially on the children in the school’s autistic unit. Staff at the school and the PTA have clubbed together to fund and erect the polytunnel, which enables the children to garden whatever the weather. In 2018 they were one of the shortlisted Schools in the Cultivation Street competition.
About the garden
This school garden is largely devoted to food-growing space in 8 raised beds and composting. The pupils and staff have grown everything from peas and leeks to chard and potatoes in their garden, saving all of their scraps for the compost heap. They recently acquired a wormery to add an extra dimension to the gardening activities that the children can get involved in.
The garden has a polytunnel, a circular flowerbed planted out with pollinator-friendly plants and two wildlife-friendly ponds.
Impact on the children
The children have learnt about growing vegetables from the seed to the plate. They love getting their hands dirty unearthing their own potatoes or picking their own tomatoes. They have learnt about germination, watering, photosynthesis, weeding, harvesting, pollination, and seed collection. Though they love to taste the different types of produce that they have grown. The children have even started to sell excess produce on market stalls, helping them develop their confidence by speaking to a broader range of people in our community! The two school ponds are used to teach the children about the lifecycle of frogs and how we can have a positive impact on them by taking care of our environment.
The children have also learnt about composting and the importance of recycling waste instead of sending it to landfill. The whole school, including the school kitchen, now save their peelings, fruit cores and tea bags for the school compost heap. Many of the children who attend this school live in flats with little to no outdoor space, so the school garden gives them a chance to experience nature in a way that they otherwise would be unable to.
Thoughts from Midfield Primary School in 2018...
“Midfield garden has grown so much in the past couple of years and is becoming a main attraction at the school. Many staff members who are passionate about outdoor learning have worked really hard to get the garden to where it is today and we have really noticed how much the garden is helping the vulnerable and disadvantaged children in our classrooms most of all. Children who are disruptive indoors really blossom and come into their own when they are given the chance to get involved in growing seeds and learn about nature in a more relaxed environment. It would be amazing if the school could be recognised for all the hard work that’s gone into making our garden great.”
“Things in our garden have been busy as usual. The children from our gardening club planted sweet peas back in September and have been looking after them and picking off the tips to encourage bushy plants. They are growing nicely in our poly tunnel along with our Hollyhock seedlings. Our year 1 class have been on a visit to Coolings Garden Centre to learn about Poinsettias and were presented with a mini plant to keep. Near the end of 2018 we had the Age Concern group Men in Sheds come to our school and they gave some of our children a wonderful workshop using wood. The children made a metre-high bug hotel for our garden and some wooden crates ready for selling our produce next summer. The children got to use hammers, drills and saws for the first time and at the end we all sat on our circle of logs and enjoyed hot chocolate and cake.”
If this story has inspired you to become part of the Cultivation Street campaign, register for free now to take your community gardening project to the next level.
You’ll receive an array of free resources, from seed packs, Calliope® plug plants and planting calendars to seasonal newsletters jam-packed with gardening advice, ideas and success stories to whet your gardening appetite. You’ll also be given a chance to win big in the annual Cultivation Street competition, which has a staggering £20,000 to giveaway to school and community gardening projects that are changing the lives of people across the UK.