Monksdown Primary School has been working hard to regenerate their school garden with the help of children from Years 1 – 6. Year 5 students have been benefiting from being outdoors in the fresh air and learning new skills by working extensively on the garden in weekly sessions. Year 5 sowed trays of seeds back in March to begin the process and have been planted up hanging baskets to enhance picnic areas and removing weeds in raised beds and replacing them with edible crops.
Michaela Wright and Miss Jen have planned and organised Pop Up Events for every year group from 1 – 6 to attend to learn a variety of basic gardening skills including using basic tools like a hoe, trowel, and a rake. Pupils have been learning seed sowing, planting, removing weeds, watering, and important parts of plants and why we need worms in the garden. Pupils are developing plant preferences as to why they favour different plant specimens within the edible garden and how it enhances their senses.
The greenhouse has also been given a makeover with replacement panes kindly gifted by the greenhouse company. The Bee House has been revamped, and they now have an Air Bee & Bee to encourage bees for the pollination of their plants. Year 3 pupils attending their Afterschool Pop Up Events distributed mini bug houses around the garden to encourage insects and bugs to build their homes. This is important that it contributes to the wider eco system of nature.
Lunchtime Gardening clubs organised by Miss Jen have contributed to weeding and sowing seeds. Mrs Cullen’s ‘Dad’ – Class Teacher from Year One contributed a tray of tomato seedlings and sunflowers which are now growing and developing in strong tomato plants that will soon give them a bumper harvest to use on all sorts of delicious recipes. Year 1 also enjoyed a bug hunt and planting seeds with Miss Jen.
Mr R Corrigan, Mrs Corrigan, and Mrs Connolly have organised daily greenhouse and garden watering with pupils at lunchtimes. Eco Club has contributed by encouraging wildlife back into the garden with bird seed on the bird tables and watering the plants in the raised beds. Mr Wright has kindly donated skills and his time and made some fantastic chalkboard signs for the raised beds so children can easily find different edible plants and learn basic facts about them like courgettes, strawberries, potatoes, broad beans, lettuce, tomatoes, kohlrabi, beetroot, carrots, sweetcorn and more!
Gardening and being outdoors connecting with nature can improve both physical and mental health of the whole community and will benefit their families. The crops they harvest will be used in their curriculum lessons, dinner hall at lunchtime, and be distributed to families through their school food pantry. This coming week Year 3 will use the lettuce leaves for their sandwich making and Year 1 have used it for tasting in their food and nutrition lessons.
The Garden has already achieved Award Levels 1 & 2 from Royal Horticulture Society School Gardening Scheme. We are now working towards levels 3, 4 and 5.
The wider staff are now contributing by clearing the borders of weeds where the fruit trees grow ready for the apple fall. They are looking forward to a bumper harvest and teaching staff using the garden creatively to link lessons with existing science curriculum. They are also planning an exciting enterprise event with the school community in the Autumn Term.
Overall, Monksdown Primary School is doing an excellent job in regenerating their school garden and involving the whole community in the process. The benefits of gardening and connecting with nature are immeasurable, and it is great to see the school taking advantage of this opportunity.