Sal, Nuthurst Community Allotment, April 2021
At least thirty six-year-olds…..two hours…..one baking hot greenhouse….ummm doesn’t sound like a recipe for success; but it absolutely was! This week we had the first visit from the local primary school children who made the short walk across the road from St Andrew’s to spend the best part of the afternoon on the allotment. What a treat for the kids; they were so well behaved and completely engrossed in the tasks in hand.
The group was split into four teams with one or two teachers/enthusiastic parents in charge of each. The school have been allotted a large outside bed as well as a raised bed in the glasshouse which the children are going to tend entirely themselves. There was a (rather apt) rotation of groups, with one outside planning their planting schedule, the second group sowing seeds in trays, the third group collecting items from outside to create a work of art (Art Attack-style…see the end product above; a chicken with her chick!) and the fourth getting seeds into the soil in the raised beds inside. After their first session there were chickpeas, sweet peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and potatoes planted. We were seriously impressed by the slick organisation and the teachers and parents didn’t lose the children’s interest even for a moment!
From our very first conversation with the headteacher, the school has shown nothing but enthusiasm for the project and we were so chuffed to hear that such a large group were turning up this week armed with seeds, trays and mini watering cans, spades and forks! Whether the kids get involved as part of the after-school gardening club or as part of the curriculum, the allotment will provide the children with a wholesome education in the good stuff that the earth can produce. In our minds there isn’t anything quite as important for children to learn. Having their growing areas right in the centre of the allotment will mean that the kids are surrounded by the huge variety of vegetables that we are planning on growing (as well as our exotic/obscure fruit glasshouse) which we’re hoping will broaden their tastes and their confidence in trying new things.
I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that digging holes in the soil, getting a bit dirty and talking about food (not to mention getting out of the classroom on a sunny afternoon) should be quite as exciting to the children as it clearly was. It gave us so much hope for the continued involvement of the school. Our next stage on the allotment of starting a field kitchen will hopefully be able to peak the children’s enthusiasm even more, by teaching them how to harvest, prep, cook and eat the vegetables that they are growing from seed. Pretty mind blowing.
A very happy bunch of faces left the allotment on Wednesday, all chattering about who planted what and where, and we can’t wait to see them again.