“IMAGINE going home with your fruit and veg and saying ‘I grew this.’”
Linda Marshall is referring to the produce that pupils at St Columba’s Catholic Primary School in Bradford are literally growing for their own plates.
Their prowess at ‘growing their own’ stems from the Quad, the designated natural haven developed over the past three years with the School Council within the grounds of their school.
Raised beds nestle among the space along with a wildlife pond and a summer house where pupils can spot and record the wildlife inhabitants making their homes here - just a short distance from Tong Street, one of the busiest commuter corridors into the city centre.
Yesterday’s launch of the Kitchen Garden utilises another dis-used space they identified within the school grounds.
“We have the beautiful Quad, but obviously in terms of us wanting to promote healthy eating and healthy lifestyles in more depth for children and parents we haven’t sufficient for us to grow what we wanted to grow,” explains Linda.
The aim of the kitchen garden, explains, Linda, a teaching assistant who runs regular gardening clubs for youngsters here, is to involve the whole community in their growing project.
Community involvement is a strong ethos for the school, which previously hosted a ‘Get Your Grown Up Growing’ session for parents and carers to learn about the school’s growing initiatives.
Produce they grow within the kitchen garden will be available for pupils, parents and carers to take home and create healthy and nutritious meals.
Linda says they also hope to create monthly recipes using the seasonal salads and vegetables they will be producing.
“It is fantastic for us. Next year it means we can produce our own seedlings and grow more and grow longer and the main thing is we can give it out to our parents and carers and that is the plan, to use it for that,” says Linda.
“What we want to be thinking about is staple things which people can take home and make a meal out of. Potatoes, turnips, we have a pumpkin patch, carrots and in the summer we can link that with salads, tomatoes, it will be growing seasonally.”
Linda says it also links in with the children’s education too. “It links in from the point of view of promoting healthy lifestyles as well in the gardening skills, how to grow, recognise what things are and how many were planted can use numeracy, the educational side as well.”
Linda says it also encourages families to try different things. She says there may be some types of vegetables they are more likely to try if they have grown them.
“The incentive to try it is there and that goes home as well,” says Linda.
Sponsored by security manufacturer, Burg-Wachter UK Ltd, formerly Sterling Locks, in Bradford, who have funded the poly tunnel as well as other items, the kitchen garden is an extension of the school’s other growing initiatives such as the high profile Rocket Science project. They are currently cultivating seeds grown in the Space Experiment involving British astronaut, Tim Peake.
Linda says they also hope to use kitchen garden produce in the cookery course they run in school. However, it won’t be used in the school kitchen as they don’t envisage they will be at the stage where they can mass produce!
“And we cannot always guarantee it will be ready,” adds Linda.
But she says they hope to use it within their kitchen area when doing cooking classes.
“It’s another strand of learning,” explains Linda.
She says it also adds to the youngsters’ experiences with many commenting that working in the gardening is a calming exercise. It brings comfort to those who go there in times of sadness and for those pupils who may be shy,
Linda says it helps to bring them out and raises their self esteem.
“It brings its own calmness and the strategy comes back into the classroom,” says Linda.
To help launch the garden the sponsors, along with Governors and parents, attended Wednesday’s event.
As well as thanking the sponsors who have helped to make the garden possible, Linda also expressed her appreciation to Bradford-based Swithenbanks for their generous donation of fruit and veg for the launch.
“It is wonderful because it has given us the opportunity to be able to do what we want to do in terms of educating and involving the community and parents more, and making sure children have access to good quality home grown produce that is going to enhance their lives and their families lives,” adds Linda.
Mark Pearson, senior national account manager with Burg-Wachter UK Ltd, says: “The more we got involved with it the more we got enthused about it and could see the good it would deliver.
“The long term benefits of it as well, not just at this moment in time but it is something the children will benefit from, and the school, for years to come.”