an aspect of physical development is the sensory stimulation that our children experience in our garden.
Gardening with children helps with their development. With our six raised bed we have created our own edible garden where children learn how plants grow and what living things need to remain healthy.
At Albion, children experience feeling the texture of the soil and plant leaves with our fantastic gardener Emma, who works for global generation, an educational charity in the local area that work with children to create healthy, integrated and environmentally responsible communities.
Emma has created a garden where children find the smell of the fresh garden and it plants interesting. As we plant edible plants, this is one of the ways where we can actually safely employ the children's sense of taste. We find that children are often more willing to try new foods if that have been involved in the process of growing it. This is why in summer 2020, the food grown by the children will be harvested, washed and provided for food at lunch time.
Children also have the opportunity to join Albion Gardening Club which is an extension of the school day.
The club provides an opportunity for children to learn about growing plants, recycling and wildlife. We grow most of our plants from seed allowing children to experience the life cycle of a plant first hand. Our edible garden is organised in to sections and we grow a variety of fruit, vegetables and flowers. The children have fun doing all sorts of activities from planting seeds, weeding, finding mini-beasts, planting out seedlings and watering the garden. They particularly look forward to the harvest party when they get to eat their hard work!
See some members in action
Global Generation Blog Entry (4th February 2020)
Live link here
Last year the Paper Garden began travelling out into Canada Water through the Dock Office planter. Then in September we began an exciting new journey with Albion Primary School.
The school has been coming to the Paper Garden for workshops for the past few years, making and growing in the car park of the Printworks. The school was keen to transform their own outside space, and for the children to learn more about what it takes to grow fruit and vegetables. So, every Tuesday I now spend a whole day in the school, developing their forest school garden and vegetable garden with the Year Fours and Nursery children.
There are five large growing beds at the edge of the playground. The children have planted broccoli, kale, broad beans, peas, turnips, chard, herbs, soft fruits, and apple and cherry trees. What always amazes me is the number of questions they ask about the plants growing; curiosity is in abundance. At playtime, children come and help me look after their plants, watering and weeding. They love the 8 chickens in the forest school garden, forming long queues to come and spend time with them at lunch time.
There is always the gamble that having planting beds in a school playground might cause the plants to be picked prematurely or hit with footballs in the midst of the playtime games. However, the children have shown a huge amount of love for their new plants, watching the broccoli form and the broad beans flower. Their plants are thriving.
We have a gardening club for 10 children every week, where the children come back for a whole term of gardening. Before christmas they set up the wormery and composting area. They made a book all about the worms which included:
Biology of the worms
What a worm farm looks like
How to look after the worm farm
A true and false quiz about the worms
As their prize they have received a Level 3 RHS School Gardening Award certificate and will be choosing from a selection of RHS gifted fruit and vegetables to grow in the spring. We will be working towards our Level 4 award over the next few terms.
They also performed beautiful poems about the worms and other creatures and seeds that live underground at our Paper Garden Winter Solstice Celebration. Their work contributed to the magic of the growing Paper Garden.
Developing the forest school garden is not going to happen overnight, we need time for the plants to grow and see what works with the land. A living willow tunnel has just been planted, and the children are excited to see it form a dense wall of green. We have had a lot of rain over the past few months, and the area is looking muddy, but the trees are happy, and the children love digging up worms for their proud chickens.
The mental and physical benefits from caring for the plants and animals have been revealing themselves through the hard work, dedication, curiosity, and happiness of the children. Personally, staying outside in the rain with the plants and the children has been a medicine to my soul. To be in the presence of the enthusiastic children as well as the voices of the chickens and the plants is wonderful. The work has formed a large part of my Masters inquiry around how we cope with the climate crisis and how nature acts as my guide through professional situations in the face of the changing amounts of biodiversity, rain, and sun.
British Land and Albion School have provided the funding support to enable this vision of an edible garden to become reality. Over the next few months more of the Paper Garden will be appearing outside of the Printworks base as we transform our Skip Garden skips into woodland planters for the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre Car Park, with the help of Bosco Centre College students.
Author - Emma Trueman.