We have had raised beds at the back of our school for many years. A few years ago we started entering the ‘Muintir na Tíre School Garden Competition’. A number of parents, who are keen gardeners, have guided us and helped us to develop our garden each year. Niamh Kelly has been particularly helpful and has educated our whole school community on how to save our seeds and to compost our grass cuttings properly. Our raised beds have been joined by a herb section, some fruits bushes, apple and plum trees, bird feeders and a bug hotel. We have been highly commended for three consecutive years in the small garden section.
In the Spring of 2020, our Parent Teacher Association purchased a polycarbonate polytunnel for the school. Unfortunately the school was closed for most of the growing season due to Covid 19. This Autumn we have grown cress, mustard, lettuce, spinach, radishes and carrots in the polytunnel. We also grew hyacinths which bloomed just in time for the pupils to bring them home as Christmas presents. It is an outdoor classroom which has greatly enhanced our playground. Every breaktime, groups of children visit the polytunnel to water their plants, check the temperature and monitor the growth of their plants.
The garden represents an amazing learning tool that can have an enormous affect on our students' development. As we move towards a more sustainable society that aims to tackle the growing biodiversity crisis, it provides an opportunity to teach them how to grow their own food. We can show them how to provide habitats for wildlife, these are the ideas that children need to be exposed to from a young age to create environmentally conscious citizens.