Story: Fran Belbin
More than 40 people gathered at Grimesthorpe allotments for the launch of the School for Vegetables, a new project that will see local schoolchildren growing their own fruit and vegetables, with the support of Green City Action (GCA) staff and volunteers.
Two overgrown plots have been transformed into a large vegetable garden, complete with poly-tunnels and a covered shelter. Kids from Firs Hill, Byron Wood and Hucklow Schools have been the first to visit the “outdoor classroom” and have given brilliant feedback about how much they enjoyed digging, watering the plants and finding out about wildlife conservation. Project worker Saskia Baker explained the aim is to get 2400 schoolchildren involved over 2 years. They hope to help school staff and pupils develop vegetable patches and containers on their own land. Volunteer Rick said,
“The kids' reaction is amazing! One little boy had never seen an earthworm before!”
GCA project worker Rob Bullock described how he has been training volunteers in organic horticulture. Six have cleared the land and created the school’s garden and structures. Trainee Hendrika Stephens explained how she has gained the confidence to tackle an allotment herself:
"It's great to get practical advice and actually watch someone doing it! It's helped me to plan my activities and get help from the other parents and teaching assistant from St Catherine's.”
Lord Mayor Sylvia Dunkley planted a grapevine to mark the opening and commented:
“There is increasing awareness it's just not sustainable to fly fruit and vegetables around the world, and local produce tastes better!”
She was impressed by the turnout for the launch, showing how the project had “touched the heart of the community”.
Money for the project has been raised through the Local Food Fund and the Community Assembly funded the installation of a massive rainwater harvesting tank. Unfortunately it has only rained once since the tank was installed but no doubt the British weather can be relied on to fill the tank in the future!
GCA are also running the Garden Share project, matching those who have suitable gardens with potential growers who will use the gardens productively. To get involved with either project, contact Green City Action on 244 0353. Experienced volunteers with time to help on weekdays are particularly needed, but any level of experience is welcome.
“It looks pretty, I like to come here and grow things like tomatoes and carrots” – Shania.
”It's got lots of space for flowers too” – Nancy