[C]hildren at Windermere School’s Elleray Campus have been celebrating National Gardening Week by getting busy in the school greenhouse.
National Gardening Week was launched seven years ago by the Royal Horticultural Society and this year runs from 30 April to 6 May. It has become the country’s biggest celebration of gardening, encouraging thousands of people to get involved in various gardening projects.
Each week at Elleray, the children head for the Greenhouse, ready for some gardening action. Armed with seeds, waterproofs and gardening gloves, they quickly set about their tasks. One group sets about weeding the onion and bean plots; another group mixes compost in readiness to plant their seeds; and the final group tidies the plot, putting all of the weeds and waste into the compost bin.
The Gardening Club at Elleray is run by Headteacher and keen gardener, Rachael Thomas, who is very aware of the benefits of gardening; “The children are really hands on in the garden. To the experienced, orderly gardener it may seem a little chaotic, but the children love to get their hands dirty, are keen to learn and show real delight when the first shoots appear from the seeds they have planted.
“This is also a fantastic opportunity for the children to learn about responsibility, teamwork and health. Together they keep the plot relatively weed free, making sure it remains tidy and, when their plants are ready to harvest, they can enjoy a healthy, homemade meal.”
Earlier this year, the children planted broad beans, peas, onions and potatoes and now they are concentrating on their summer crops – lettuce, tomatoes, pepper, courgettes and runner beans. Wherever possible, the produce is used in the school kitchen.
As well as planting vegetables, the children are encouraged to think about the garden environment, and to do whatever they can to help wildlife.
Adds Mrs Thomas; “The children often come across creepy crawlies, flying insects and worms and are keen to know what they do. We take time out to explain to them that the garden has its own ecosystem and these creatures play an important role in making sure their plants grow. From pollinating insects to burrowing earthworms taking vital nutrients to the plants’ roots, very little in the garden happens by accident.
National Gardening Week helps us to promote everything that is great about getting out in the garden. It’s healthy, both physically and emotionally; it enables the children to learn vital skills such as communication and teamwork; it’s been suggested that it fuels their entrepreneurial spirit, as well as helping the children to gain resilience and confidence; and, above all, it’s great fun.”