Who are we?
Mill Mead Primary School is a school at the very heart of the community, whose motto is 'life is for learning and learning is for life'. There is a very strong community amongst the pupils, parents and the wider community in this town-located school. The majority of pupils live close by and walk to school.
Our community project to date
Back in September 2017, the Headteacher asked if there were any parent volunteers who would help transform a neglected area into a garden, where the children and families could learn skills of growing, maintaining and harvesting. Myself and another parent came forward. The intention was to create a productive area where children can eat what they grow. We were also hoping to create a calm sanctuary for some children with special needs.
To kick-start our new growing garden, we held two 'Groundforce Days' for the school community (parents, staff and pupils) to come together to transform the area. We replaced and rebuilt two raised beds. We laid weed membrane and bark chippings around the beds to make it accessible in all weathers. We installed guttering and water butts to allow a sustainable water source.
Our achievements so far
A year on and our growing garden has allowed the pupils and their families to enjoy planting the seeds, getting their hands dirty for the first ever time, showing them where some of their foods come from. The delight in their faces when they were able to pick a home-grown strawberry, taste pineapple mint or pick a bouquet of sweet peas for their teacher was fantastic.
"This is fun, I'm going to ask Mum if we can plant some tomatoes at home." [Year 1 pupil].
Further funding would develop opportunities for the school
One year in, and our new project is to make the garden area more inviting for the children to come and explore. We would love to receive funding for a bench or table, so the children could have somewhere to examine the different plants. We would also love to receive an all-weather sign saying 'welcome to our garden' and some colourful insects signs to help teach the children about various mini beasts.
We would also love to make the garden more accessible to the teachers, given the limited time they have in the packed curriculum. If we were able to provide a waterproof outdoor box in which teachers could keep resources and lesson plans this would help. An outdoor whiteboard would also able us to enhance the pupils' learning experience.
We would spend some of the funding on the basics needed for every successful garden - more compost, more environmentally friendly pots, some more tools!
Funding would help to extend our links with a local Care Home
Finally - we intend to hold two community days in 2019 where we can celebrate the garden and show the wider community what the pupils have been growing. Funding would help to buy any plants or materials we would need and help to provide a hot lunch. We intend to try and extend our links with Beane River View Care Home by asking if any residents would like to come and share the day with us, celebrate the garden and perhaps pass on any tips to the pupils.
"We would love for our residents to have a trip over to see the garden and share some lunch. [Care Manager].