Autumn is always our busiest time of year and this year has been no exception. The new term started with lots of minibeasting, with children finding all sorts of invertebrates including their favourite, the Devil’s Coach Horse Beetle, as well as a few newts and toads! We also planted school gardens with autumn sown crops including garlic, onions, winter lettuce, broad beans and peas.
These vegetables are particularly good for schools because they should crop before the school summer holidays and so avoid the tricky issue of watering/cropping when the school is closed. We have also been very busy at the SVP allotment with our Tuesday Women Outdoor Working (WOW) group. We had a bumper harvest of tomatoes from our polytunnel and have been planting more vegetables and green manures.
October saw the peak of the ‘wheat to loaf’ project. In March we planted wheat in 10 schools with the intention of cleaning, milling and baking with it in just one morning in the autumn. Three new schools joined the project, two from Gloucester and one from Cheltenham. Seven schools eventually took part in the milling and baking sessions, with Park Infant School, Stonehouse, going the extra mile to create the “Ultimate Jam Sandwich.” This used our home grown bread, included butter that we also made in the session and jam from fruit grown in the school garden.
Spring will see us out planting again and exploring school grounds in search of animals, plants and inspiration. If you are interested in booking some outdoor learning sessions, please get in touch with Tamsin at SVP on 01453 753358.
From February 2011 – March 2014 SVP’s school gardening project, Get Growing, supported primary schools in Stroud District to grow, cook, eat and sell their own food.
From April 2014 we secured new funding from Ernest Cook Trust, Cotswold AONB Sustainable Development Fund and The Summerfield Trust. This funding has allowed us to continue with growing but we are now also able to incorporate other areas of outdoor learning such as pond dipping and minibeasting to make the most of school’s outside spaces to encourage hands on learning. This exciting, new project is called Growing Wild.
Among our ongoing growing work we have the ‘Wheat to Loaf’ project in which schools plant wheat in the spring, harvest it in the autumn, and then clean and mill it into flour which they use to make bread. Linked to this we have funding to subsidise school trips to working mills and farms. We also hold a carved pumpkin lantern trail in October, hopefully including home grown pumpkins from the seeds and seedlings we distributed in the spring.
As part of Get Growing we produced a Garden leader’s Pack which is now available to download here. For a free hard copy please contact us on 01453 753358.