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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 a competition entry from 2018.

The Clare School – Garden without Boundaries, entered by Sally Trett

Since summer 2017, the team at The Clare School have been working to rejuvenate their garden. An area that used to be inaccessible to disabled pupils is now a beautiful green space with a full-functioning, accessible greenhouse and in 2018 The Clare School was Highly Commended in the Schools’ category of the Cultivation Street Competition.

The Clare School's students in their greenhouse, the story of their Cultivation Street garden without boundaries, accessible to all
The Clare School's greenhouse, the story of their Cultivation Street garden without boundaries, accessible to all

About the garden

The Clare School’s project began when they started work on disused scrub land, featuring a greenhouse with broken panes, overgrown wooden planters, and a huge pile of rubbish! With their work cut out for them, the team set about redesigning the space to make it cleaner, tidier and more accessible to their pupils, many of whom use wheelchairs, in the hope of maximising their opportunities and ensuring as much independence as possible.

The garden now features variable height planters made from old fence panels, which make gardening possible for children with a range of disabilities. There is a sensory section for children requiring a sensory-oriented approach and a pond to attract a range of wildlife to the garden. There is a bug hotel made from recycled materials and a wheelchair-accessible bat box and bird table. The garden also features a section of insect-friendly plants and a large, refurbished greenhouse which is being put to full use growing vegetables.

A Clare School's student gardening outstide their greenhouse, the story of their Cultivation Street garden without boundaries, accessible to all
The Clare School's students working in their Cultivation Street garden without boundaries, accessible to all

Impact on the children

With the help of the garden, students at the school have been working towards an Award Scheme Development Accreditation Network (ASDAN) award in Horticulture. This has covered everything from garden safety, to how to look after equipment and grow a variety of plants. The awards that their produce and garden has won has given them a real sense of achievement and confidence.

The colours, smells and tactile plants in the sensory section cater to students who need a more sensory-oriented approach. Without exception, all of the children at the school are provided with a stimulating experience, whatever their educational needs. Through the garden, the children have also formed links with a local after school club, called Beehive, with whom they meet weekly to pursue gardening projects together.

The Clare School's colourful planting in their Cultivation Street garden without boundaries
The Clare School's Cultivation Street garden without boundaries, accessible to all

Thoughts from The Clare School in 2018...

“The students have embraced every element of their gardening experience this year. With very limited funds we have achieved a great deal and the students have enhanced the garden beyond all expectations. We would love to continue this great work by expanding to more sensory stimulation, a wheelchair accessible shed and some adaptive garden tools for wheelchair users. Our students are so inspirational in overcoming difficulties, they deserve to be recognised for their incredible success so far.”

...and now

"Up until recently the weather has been a bit chilly to be out gardening with our students in wheelchairs, as it's a bit difficult to keep warm with limited mobility. However, we had a brief warm spell in March when we got out into the greenhouse and managed to get some seeds sown, many of which I'm pleased to say we saved from last year's harvest! We have also weeded and planted some of our homemade adaptive planting tables.

We are busy planning our Norfolk Show Garden design, as we are entering the schools competition again this year, hoping to improve on our Silver Gilt Award from last year. A challenging theme of 'Wellbeing, Tourism and Volunteering with a rustic twist' awaits!

Our 100 Calliope geranium plug plants arrived the week before we broke up for Easter, so the students were very busy getting these planted up and look forward to seeing how they have grown on return.

In terms of what it means to be placed in the competition, we couldn't have been more pleased to be recognised in a national competition! The prize money is invaluable in helping us reach our target to provide a workshop/shed with level access for our wheelchair users. This will ensure we can maximise the opportunities for our students to experience different environments."

The Clare School's adaptive planting tables in their Cultivation Street garden
The Clare School's CalliopeMyLife Calliope Geranium plug plants planted up in their greenhouse in their Cultivation Street Garden
Cultivation Street Stories, The Clare School, the story of their Cultivation Street garden

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.

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