When the second of our kids was heading towards secondary age, we were chatting with one of teachers (an allotmenteer) about her burgeoning school kitchen garden. She mentioned a neglected wildlife garden and asked if I could do a quick planting plan for some herbs. Four years later, working alongside the inspirational Mrs Morgan (in a consultancy agreement paid in pick-your-own-summer-holiday strawberries), we had transformed the unloved and overgrown area into a buzzing, wildlife-friendly outdoor classroom with thematic study beds, seating, and mini-meadow, to complement the thriving kitchen garden.
With a regular crew of child labourers (and their parents) at weekends, the garden project grew and the space assumed important new roles: As breakout space for children with special needs, staff chill out, PTA events venue, a science lab and maths workshop. It became home to frogs, newts, toads, bumble bees, stag beetle and cockchafer larvae.
In 2014 the gardens were commended by the RHS as an exemplar and produce and plants grown and sold at PTA events even meant the gardens became financially sustainable through the ‘austerity era’ financial pressures.
The garden transformed the front entrance to the school and, even more importantly, the outlook from the Head’s office. More fundamentally, it has touched the lives of countless children, parents and siblings who still come to feed the chickens, pick the strawberries and fish for water snails.
An “Eco-Schools” flag flies proudly in the corner.