Outlook 21
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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Spring arrives in the school garden
6 Parish Pump Spring arrives in the school garden February brings many things. Spring flowers burst through the winter cold and wet to cheer us. Snowdrops, crocus, winter aconites and daffodils are the early, welcome signs of the end of winter. Once the half-term holiday is over, then St Mary’s School, Woodbridge, begin their school gardening year. The school’s Gardening Club was set up 11 years ago on a site at the back of school. One of their founders, Cathie Fraser, still runs the club. There is now a well-established school garden formed of a series of productive raised beds. Gardening is only one of many subjects taught and enjoyed outdoors in this lovely space. Music, Maths, Art and inspiration for creative writing in English lessons can take place here. However, it is at this time of year that the race begins against weather, time and natural competitors such as slugs and other wildlife. This year the Royal Horticultural Society has introduced a theme for schools entitled ‘Rocket Science’. You can find out more about it on their website. St Mary’s School is one of the schools who have successfully applied to take part in the 35-day multi-centre experiment by growing seeds that have been previously held in microgravity in space for a six-month period. Learning outdoors The garden relies upon volunteers to do the heavy work, so that children can learn outdoors in an active way. Parents, pupils and grandparents turn up to ‘Dig-it-Days’ and make short work of compost turning, manure spreading and digging over of the raised beds before the growing season starts. Parents and pupils have made bird-boxes and insect homes to encourage wildlife into the garden. Each year-group in the school has its own growing area to use for a project of their choosing. Some choose to grow, harvest, cook and eat new potatoes at the end of the summer term. Some choose to grow archways of scented sweet peas. The most important crop of all is the development of our next generation of gardeners keen to care for our world and grow food and flowers in harmony with the wildlife around us. Virginia Spray