School Visits

In recent months I been having a great time visiting primary schools and running workshops in all things nature. I think it’s nice to know a little bit about the “real world” we live in and some of it’s magic.  Below we explored a hedge row on a bit of waste ground near some allotments. We talked about the importance of hedges and at how untended plants grow without any help. What tips and tricks could observing a hedge offer us in our allotment garden?  What effect does a hedge have on the wind, the sun, the creatures we might likely find? If we don’t have a “garden” at home  could this hedge be our garden  as we pass by on the way to school, a place where we come to observe , nibble and relax in this busy world of ours. Just because you don’t have a garden does’nt mean you cannot garden. What exactly is gardening anyway?

DSCF3828.JPG

The approach I’m trying to take is what could be called Keeping it real, sometimes a challenge  for a teacher but a natural state of happiness to most children. Basically this means getting your clothes dirty, getting wet and doing something real, we are living in Ireland lets not forget.

IMG_8312

Each visit is completely different and very much influenced by those one or two key teachers a school might be luck enough to have who see the importance in the natural world, food, health and the development of a love of nature. Again and again teachers from different schools have told me about how they grew up in a rural setting and spent their days out playing. This contrasts to how many children now grow up in urban environments in a very different culture.

I was surprised to find that in most classes there are a usually a few children who have never handled compost or soil. Thats dirty they might say , yes ” Good Dirt” .  By far the best and most interesting discoveries are made poking about in the soil with a trowel. A simple worm is so exciting that it’s important to do a worm count before any activities where they might be uncovered.

Simple stringlines using bamboo and twine are an excellent way to practice measurements in cm and Inches. A hand trowel is all that is required for most jobs with so much energy.

DSCF3838.JPG

 

DSCF3837.JPG

In go the broadbeans, garlic onions and green manures. In this pic the 4 foot wide beds make it difficult to reach the middle and the narrow paths make it a challenge for access with a group. This style of bed would be better with 4 foot paths for access and 3 foot beds for reaching into. Designing a garden for a class of 24 to 34 children to have space to work in at a number of stations is important to carefully consider from the start.

DSCF3830.JPG

I was very luck to spend a week working  with the Ballyroan boys gardening club. Over the week we mulched the paths with cardboard and woodchips kindly droped by Setanta tree care, built a composting system from free pallets and filled the raised beds with soil for planting.

spreading leaves.JPG

barrowing.JPG

The boys from the gardening club are great workers often giving up their lunch break in yard to do gardening. Here they are clearing an area to make a pallet composter.

preparing for a composting area.JPG

moving much.JPG

compost (3).JPG

The boys in the gardening club get out regularly into the garden to do work. Here we are fixing some mesh to steps to improve the grip in the winter.

nailing.JPG

sawing.JPG

Its amazing once everyone gets stuck into the jobs how quiet everyone gets, working away on their project.

weeding.JPG

compost (2).JPG

Lining out the braodbeans

photo 3.JPG

The project is ongoing and we look forward to catching up again in the spring. That was a great week despite the rain.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s