Monday 31 March 2014
Keen gardening pupils at Comberbach Primary School, Northwich were today visited by Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP for Tatton, Mr George Osborne who presented the school with a Five Star Gardening School Award from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Campaign for School Gardening.
Mr Osborne was joined by RHS North West Regional Schools Advisor, Anne Gunning to reward the school for their exemplary gardening efforts which has seen them achieve the highest level in the RHS School Gardening Awards. The school was awarded £200 in gardening gift vouchers and two RHS Five Star Gardening School plaques to display in their grounds. They have become the 125th school to receive the grand prize and 16th in the North West region.
Comberbach Primary School developed its own community kitchen garden in March 2012 after receiving a Big Lottery Award and it has since become the focus of the school’s growing activities. Mr Osborne officially opened the garden and planted an apple tree which marked the start of an extremely successful project.
With the help and expertise of the school’s Garden Project Leader, Mrs Babirye Gregory, an RHS trained professional gardener, the garden has flourished. Each class is given weekly horticultural sessions in the garden where they are responsible for planning, sowing, cultivating and harvesting their own fruit, vegetables and flowers. Pupils have grown an impressive amount of produce often bordering on the unusual with cucamelons, dahlia yams and pink fir apple potatoes adding to the yield.
As well as developing horticultural skills, the garden has allowed pupils to learn more about the benefits of growing their own food, the importance of healthy eating and sustainable gardening techniques such as water conservation and soil management. Across the school teachers have embraced the garden as a way of enriching the curriculum, forging links with science, literacy and art lessons.
As well as achieving the highest accolade in the RHS School Gardening Awards, Comberbach Primary has received many awards for its hard work. The school received a Bronze Award in Cheshire West & Chester’s Schools in Bloom competition in 2012 and 2013, a runner up prize in the Co-operative Green Schools Revolution Week 2013, a runner up prize in the RHS Get Your Grown-up Growing competition in 2012 and were specially commended for their ‘Mr McGregor’s Garden’ at the Arley Hall & Gardens Festival School’s Challenge in 2013. Year 1 pupil and Gardening Club member, Thomas Southern, was also a finalist for RHS Young School Gardener of the Year 2013.
Garden Project Leader, Mrs Gregory says, “We are very proud to become an RHS Five Star Gardening School. It is a fantastic gardening achievement for our pupils, who thoroughly enjoy getting their hands dirty in their school Kitchen Garden. Taking part in the RHS Campaign for School Gardening has been a great platform for developing our Kitchen Garden and helping our pupil’s achieve and share their gardening successes. As a gardener, I am passionate about showing young people how satisfying and enjoyable it is to grow your own food. I believe it is vitally important that children have such an opportunity to learn about where their food comes from. Through gardening, children begin to understand and explore their relationship with the natural world and the impact our food choices make on our planet.”
RHS North West Regional Schools Advisor, Anne Gunning says, “It is always a pleasure to award such hard working schools with this accolade and Comberbach Primary School has done an amazing job to achieve this after Mr Osborne opened their garden in 2012. The passion of the pupils and Mrs Gregory really shines through and it’s wonderful to see the school using the garden as an extra resource to deliver the curriculum.
“Setting up a school garden can seem like a daunting task but the RHS Campaign for School Gardening makes it simple for schools to get growing. The pride that pupils can feel when they pull that first carrot from the ground or see the first leaves appear after sowing a tiny seed is second to none. Gardening opens up a world of skills and knowledge and can help pupils achieve something they may never have dreamed of. Comberbach Primary is a prime example of how much a little determination and passion can achieve.”
The RHS Campaign for School Gardening is a free initiative dedicated to supporting schools in setting up and actively using a school garden. Since it began in 2007, over 18,500 schools, educational groups and youth groups have registered to the Campaign with a huge percentage taking part in the RHS School Gardening Awards, a step-by-step scheme that build pupils’ knowledge of practical gardening and rewards their efforts with a series of prizes upon completion of levels 1-5. Schools can register free with the Campaign at rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening.
Notes to editors
For more information, please contact Alana Tapsell, Schools Communications Officer for the RHS Campaign for School Gardening at email@example.com or Ed Horne in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3356 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the RHS Campaign for School Gardening
The RHS actively involves more than 18,300 schools across the UK in growing and gardening through its Campaign for School Gardening. Children are taught about plants and gardening and their environment. Through gardening they learn about healthy fruit and vegetables, wildlife and important life skills such as teamwork, social skills and co-operation. Huge benefits are to be had from using an outdoor classroom where children can learn in a fun, engaging way. Information, lesson plans and advice for schools is provided online and is backed up by support from the RHS education team and Campaign for School Gardening Regional Advisors. rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening
About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.
Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 209 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment. rhs.org.uk
RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit rhs.org.uk/join.
RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262