Dalston schoolchildren have pitched in to help a local vets create a new wildlife-friendly wellbeing garden.
Staff at Paragon Veterinary Group created the garden at their surgery to launch their mission to make the business sustainable.
Reception class pupils from St Michael’s CE Primary School helped to plant fruit trees and wildflowers.
Vet and sustainability project lead Laura Binnie said: “We’ve been working hard on our sustainability plan during lockdown.
“We thought it would be nice to launch it with the help of the local primary school.
“Our aim is to make Paragon carbon neutral by 2030, but I am hopeful we can achieve it a lot sooner than that.”
The garden, which features pollinator-friendly plants, is also designed to support staff wellbeing.
“It’s a space where we are all encouraged to take breaks during the working day. We’ll use it to have informal outdoor meetings, team building events and social gatherings such as barbecues,” said Laura.
The garden has been created without pesticides, from local and donated plants, and has areas left untidied for wildlife.
“Former Paragon employee Roger Holliday kindly made us a bat box, hedgehog hide, robin house and a bug hotel,” said Laura, who gave the children a lesson about encouraging local wildlife.
St Michael’s reception teacher Janet McArdle said the project provided a valuable experience for the youngsters after the restrictions of the pandemic.
“We were all very excited, as it was our first trip out after COVID.
“We were planting trees and the children brought bird feeders they’d made from pipe cleaners and Cheerios,” she said. “It’s something that I want to build on next year as part of the new curriculum.”
The children also scattered wildflower seeds and hunted for wildlife habitats.
Paragon Veterinary Group has centres at Dalston, Newbiggin near Penrith, and Wetheral and includes small animal, farm, equine and advanced breeding departments.
Paragon’s sustainability plan includes reducing its carbon footprint by reducing energy use, recycling, reducing environmental impact and emissions through clinical work, and sourcing locally. Measures include a carbon audit of the business, using green renewable energy for electricity and heating, sustainable fabrics for staff uniforms and replacing vehicles with electric or hybrids.
Laura said: “We believe sustainability is hugely important. We hope our veterinary practice will help lead the way with positive changes to combat climate change and support welfare, wildlife and biodiversity.”