Birklands Gardening Club

Birklands Gardening Club benefitted from a RoLo Grant in April 2014, their grant application was for the provision of a Greenhouse at the Reg Freeman Community Garden for use by youngsters at an after school club.  This what Chrissie Hancock, the applicant, had to say:

Greenhouse-4I have been running an after school club at Birklands Primary School since joining the staff 3 years ago. I wanted to provide the children with experiences which they can take with them for life. At first I ran sports based activities, but so did most of the staff. I wanted to offer something that no one else was.

The gardening club was perfect. It built on what the children were learning within the school curriculum giving them hands on and interactive opportunities to develop their knowledge.

A close friend informed me of the community garden which could be used. As the school has no grass for the children to play on (except a small amount in the nursery playground) let alone dig up and use for growing things, this was ideal.

The children go up after school once a week and experience life on an allotment all year round. there is a classroom space to use with tables, chairs and somewhere to store school bags and belongings whilst in the garden.

The area we use has raised beds, several growing areas and a small orchard with a pear and some apple trees.

The addition of a greenhouse means the children can see the whole process from planting a seed in a pot right through to harvesting the crop when fully grown and ripened. Up until then the seeds were taken away in their pots to be germinated and grown to be hardy enough for outside planting in a friends poly-tunnel. This was not ideal as the children were oblivious of the process the seeds had been through, which sort of defeated the object of the club.

Having the green house means that the children experience the whole range of growing their own vegetables as we can now grow things like tomatoes, peppers and cucumber which don’t thrive well in our climate.

During this school year the children have grown their own plants for a mother’s day gift, taken home a hanging basket filled with flowers grown by themselves and had a bbq where they ate the salad items produced, Next year we hope to invite the children’s parents/carers to try the produce too. We also aim to grow items for the Harvest Festival. Food grown will also be used to design and cook a healthy menu to be eaten by the children.

If the children grow the food themselves they may be more inclined to try something new. They may not like it, but they will try it! It is about instilling in the children where food comes from whilst promoting a healthy lifestyle, while they are young and enthusiastic.

The ironic thing about the club is that it is run by myself! I can kill a cactus! Green fingers and Chrissie Hancock do not go together in the same sentence at all. I would not be able to provide this activity without the help and guidance from Mr John Kane. He gives freely of his time and expertise to help deliver this club to children who absorb the information like a sponge. The club is run by myself, Mrs Chrissie Hancock, assisted by two teaching assistants Mrs Joy Eames and Mrs Tracy Hallgarth under the direction of Mr John Kane. The children are aged 7 through to 9, Years 3 and 4 on a rota basis due to high demand and having to walk up to the allotment from school.

We cannot thank Big Warsop and the Rotary Club enough for the extension of the provision provided, We could not have purchased the greenhouse without the funding. May be someone could come to our next bbq? You would be made very welcome.

Many thanks

Chrissie Hancock


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