Marham Infant School Gardening Project

It’s now coming up to a year since I was ‘collared’ by Mrs Webb, Mrs Sharp & Ms Mitchell at Marham Infant school staff summer BBQ…

With the gardening plots being conveniently placed next to the school ‘we’ that is the collective as mentioned above’ thought it would be a good idea if the school had our own plot. Well that turned out to be the catalyst that started a whole chain of events which has seen the school not just have one allotment but three! We have also taken over our school grounds maintenance in which children, parents, staff and governors are all actively involved… So just what have we been up to over the past year

Well I’ll start from May 2011, We took over our first gardening plot and with it being quite late into the growing season there was a bit of a mad rush to get things underway…Within a month we had planted potatoes, runner beans, dwarf beans, carrots, radishes, beetroot, tomatoes, pumpkins and some sunflowers, How’s that for power gardening?!

However me being me, I wasn’t satisfied with just one plot; ‘Lets have three’ I exclaimed…The looks on the faces of Mrs Webb and Mrs Sharp were those of ‘what is he thinking?’, After explaining that it would good to have one allotment for fruit and two for vegetables, the idea being that any produce grown should be used in the school, also having two plots for vegetables meant that we could have some sort of effective crop rotation, they agreed.

The children and staff were actively involved in all aspects of growing and harvesting, the children have really enjoyed the harvesting.

On 1st October 2011 we held our ‘Food fair’ as a celebration of food with the emphasis on locally grown produce, We had a great deal of support from our local community with a local apprentice chef doing a cookery demonstration. A big thank you to the Berney Arms at Barton Bendish for loaning him to us. The young chef’s name is David Vinalls and I’m sure he has a great future as a chef. Sandringham fruit farm also supplied us with apples and apple juice for us to sell which proved to be very popular, Jody Caley supplied a vintage tractor, Mrs Wales supplied the straw bales which were a great addition and added to the ‘feel’ of the day, Music was supplied by local group ‘Afterglow’ who were fantastic… On top of this there was a good selection of food stalls selling Cheese, Bread, Cakes, Sauces and Chocolate.

Whilst I’m still on the food fair I must also thank the people who donated prizes for our raffle in particular The Berney Arms, Barton Bendish, Timbers Restaurant and Hotel, Fincham who were both very generous. A big thank you to everyone who was involved and came to support us on what I am hoping will be an annual event.

Back to the allotments, December saw us take delivery of five apple tress kindly donated to us by Sandringham, Royal Fruit farm. These have taken pride of place next to the Plum tree which was donated to us by Mrs Webb’s Mum and Dad.

2012 started with a flurry of ideas being mulled over by the Governors, children and staff. It was decided, after much deliberating, to do the grounds maintenance ourselves, primarily this idea was to save money but also it was about taking ‘ownership’. The work started pretty much straight away in February with a big effort to get our ‘wooded area’ in a usable condition, The old decking was taken up and with much huffing, puffing and sweating it was moved to the front of the school where it will be used as an outdoor stage…Another batch of thank you’s again to the SWO’s gang, Flt Lt Gary Lewis and everybody else I ‘grabbed’ that day…Thank you.

It’s now that I am putting this all to ‘paper’ that I realize how much we have done and that I am only touching on what has been done, I will just give a brief outline of what else has been done, for I fear that I will start to bore you….

Basically we have undertaken tree surgery, removed old raised beds, planted flower beds, planted herbs, Dug over our third allotment, laid turf, tidied up, had two bonfires… It has been a massive effort and I hope you have seen the difference. We couldn’t have done it without the help of many people including volunteers from Supply & Maintenance Squadron. The lads and lasses from ‘Skill force’ and Shamaine Elms for teeing that one up. The people who have turned up on our ‘work party’ days you know who you are, your enthusiasm is fantastic, Stephen Mann Manager of Sandringham Fruit Farm for the apple trees and strawberry plants, Marham Gardening Group… I thank you on behalf of Mrs Webb, The staff and Governors and most importantly of all the children which after all is the reason we do it !!!!

Before I finish completely I would just quickly like to say that the educational benefits to the children are many… They are learning, what I consider to be a skill for life as well as respect for what is around them. An appreciation of food and what goes into growing and making what goes on their plate at meal times, There is a crossover of skills with things they are learning in the classroom being applied in a practical sense out in the garden e.g. measuring, weighing, reading seed packets etc. So if your child comes home one day and says to you ‘I did some gardening at school today’ please don’t see it as academic time wasted because trust me they are still learning…

If you want to get involved please speak to Mrs Webb or any of the Teachers and Staff or me if you see me, I’m the chap who is normally seen wearing wellies around the school and has a perplexed look on his face.

It’s your school… get involved, it’s good for you!

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