Visit by Year 3 children from Ward End School to Northleigh Road Allotments
Children in Year 3 (7-8 year olds) at Ward End Primary School cover ‘Food Discovery’ as part of their curriculum – it involves learning where food comes from and how it’s grown. What better way to find out than to see for themselves how fruits and vegetables are produced, just 5 minutes walk from school!
In November and December this year, all 120 children had a chance to visit Northleigh Road Allotments, to find out what we get up to there and to get stuck in themselves. Led by one of the Year 3 teachers, Miss Rai, they had a look round some of the plots with David Read, who’s been on the site since 2014. Even though most of our harvesting for the year is finished, they could still see examples of fruit (strawberries, raspberries) and vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, sweetcorn, kale, spinach, cabbage). David also dug up some parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes so they could see a root vegetable come out of the ground.
Back in the pavilion, Hester Blewitt (site rep and plotholder since 2014) had organised various things for the children to try out:
· Planting seeds in pots to take home and grow on – carrots, spinach and flower seeds
· Identifying and touching some of the vegetables grown on site this year
· Smelling herbs used to flavour food dishes
· Tasting soups and a cake made from vegetables grown at the site
· Picking and weighing super-sized potatoes
We also had collections of seeds collected this year so some of the children took samples away with them to plant in the spring.
The 4 classes of 30 children each visited us on the 20th, 27th November and 4th December, welcomed by Mick Merrill, Chairman of Ward End Gardeners Association. He told them the site started 85 years ago at the same time as their school was built.
Now we’ve established the link – or rather re-established the link – between us and the school, we look forward to more contact in the future, so the next generation living locally will appreciate the value of the gardens, allotments and green spaces around them.
In April this year, we were contacted by Ward End Primary School following an earlier visit in the autumn of 2017. Mr.Ozdogac had heard from Miss Rai who organized the first visit and recommended a follow-up. He emailed to us:
“My name is Murat and I teach in year 4, as well as being a part of the UNICEF faculty at our school. As a school, we are passionate about getting the children more involved with our local community and are partaking in a variety of local community campaigns to support the people around us. In March, we were involved in a local reading campaign, where we invited parents and carers in to school for the morning to read with and to their children. It was a wonderful experience.
This month, we would like to get involved in the campaign encouraging children to volunteer in their local community to keep it tidy. We would love to bring a group of 28 year 3 children (supervised by adults of course!) to help tidy up your allotments and would be extremely grateful if you could support us in this endeavour. If this could happen in the next 2 weeks, that would be ideal, but of course we'd be flexible to if and when it would suit your needs.”
So we arranged the visit for Monday 21st May for an hour in the afternoon. The Year 3 pupils (7-8 year olds) were accompanied by Miss Rai and 2 teaching assistants. Chairman Mick Merrill and Site Rep Hester Blewitt hosted the session. We’d asked the teachers to suggest that the children bring any waste items including anything they’d personally thrown away in the 24 hours before the session eg crisp packets or food they hadn't eaten, and also have a look around them on their 5 minute walk from the school, noticing gardens and what was lying around. After welcoming them to our site, we asked them what they liked to look at as they walked around – nice gardens with flowers was a typical response – and what they didn’t like and thought was bad – litter and rubbish, which some children were quick to point out was only there because people dropped it.
The session could only last for just over an hour, so we asked them to spend just 10 minutes collecting recently deposited rubbish from around the site, in 3 small groups with an adult in each. They didn’t go to the sections of the sites where we’ve been trying to collect and dispose of rubbish, including glass, concrete and all sorts which has accumulated over many years. The school provided gloves (plastic!) and litter-pickers, and we provided bags (plastic bags!!!) In that short time, the children enthusiastically collected several bags of the rubbish and litter which blows in from the road or is chucked over the fence by people walking along or by residents whose houses are next to the site. Some rubbish is left by plotholders who are supposed to take it home and dispose of it through the usual household collections. I told the children that this isn’t supposed to happen, but lots of adults don’t give much thought to what happens to their waste, so I was trying to stress it’s a problem that we ALL have to do something about.