Schools in the East of England have been gardening right up to the end of term - despite the demands of Christmas productions....
On monday I helped students at Castle Hill Middle School in Haverhill make Christmas decorations made from willow. I worked with a group of students where english is their second language. Parents were invited to join us, and we learnt about Christmas traditions in Portugal and Poland.
We had fun making a star shape from bending and weaving wilow wands then decorating them with ribbons, glitter, raffia and pine cones. You can find out how to make willow stars on the RHs Campaign for School Gardenign website.
Becky Baldwin is an art teacher at the school with a comunity liason role. She has pioneered a school - community allotment scheme on a bank of land next to the school tennis courts.Volunteers cleared the overgrown site then the land was divided into small narrow allotment plots and offered to school staff, pupils, teachers, neighbouring primary schools and the community.
The result, is a real community effort, with some plots being looked after by grandparents, some by neighbouring school gardening clubs, some by individual teachers. Harvests have been good this year. A new polytunnel and shed offers space to start crops early and to keep tools on site, as well as rain water harvesting. It is a great way to share growing across schools and the community.
Last minute bulb planting continued in Haverhill at Place Farm Primary school on monday afternoon. A daffodill spiral that began in drought stricken September - was finally completed this week! Bulbs had been planted in pots back in September and were planted out into the sprial - thanks to a whole class effort by Year 3 Mrs Budinger's class and the rain that has made peeling back the grass so much easier.
Southfields Junior School in Peterborough were ambitious in planting crocus bulbs in the shape of their school name! 11 letters - each 1.5 metres tall and 1 metre wide were planted by every child in the 9 classes in the school. I think this a record for me for the number of children I have gardened with at one school in one day (270!). Hopefully, in the spring Southfields will be spelt in large letters by yellow crocuses!This was a great maths lesson, calculating the number of letters in the name of the school, then the number of bulbs to be planted in each letter and then finally calculating the price!
The last of the 8 raised beds were assembled in the snow at St Andrews Junior School in Colchester on wednesday - thanks to some determined gardening club students especially Harry who wanted to work on even in the lunch hour! Staff and volunteer Caroline, a Wrttle college horticultural degree graduate also worked hard all day despite the cold and snow. I insisted on stopping at lunchtime as it was the school's Christmas lunch! Thank you for inviting me to lunch - it made gardening in the snow well worth it.
Pay Back community service team helped clear a weedy corner and have prepared the ground for a new shed.
These beds will be ready for sowing and planting in the spring term!