We facilitate a number of ongoing, permanent primary school garden groups, throughout the school calendar year. In one such project at Our Lady of Mercy Primary School in Sligo town, we worked to coordinate a dynamic gardening group each week. The ages of the children span from 4 to 12 years of age, with many varied personalities. Over the course of one spring season, all 450 school children worked in the school polytunnel, sowing seeds, transplanting and caring for their crops. This fantastic project was showcased in the regional newspaper, and went on to win Sligo Tidy Towns First Prize in the primary school category.
Another Space to Grow project with Social Ursula National School in Sligo town also went on to claim first prize in the Tidy Towns primary school category in a different year.
With our ongoing experience, we carefully choose crops that produce food either side of the long summer holidays. Over the last few years, the children have experienced the natural cycle of a full growing season, through sowing, harvesting and cooking their crops. Even in the cold winter months the children are very inventive, constructing insect hotels to protect overwintering beneficial insects and up-cycling everyday plastic waste items into quirky bird feeders.
The potential for different activities in the school garden is huge. Let students of all ages get their hands in the soil, get them excited about growing delicious and healthy food, and teach them what could potentially be one of the most important things they learn in their lifetime.
“If children understand nature and value it, they will take more care of it when they are older. If they are not engaging with the natural world now, they will not feel any need to protect it. Outdoor learning is a way of building children’s relationship with the natural world, and will go a long way to achieving a more secure future for the world around us. With half their time spent at screens, the next generation will be poorly equipped to defend the natural world from harm.” – Hugh Dames (Forest school in the UK)