Inspired by Greta Thunberg's Fridays For Future movement and young activists around the world standing up for our planet, I wanted to 'do' something. So I started Skool Beanz as an after school gardening club at the primary school in my village of Chilthorne Domer in Somerset in June 2019. It was so popular that when an allotment opposite the school became available, I decided to transform the plot into a garden especially for children. Then covid hit. So the lockdown's were spent getting the allotment all cleared, built, mulched with compost and manure and woodchip paths laid all ready for the children to start planting in April 2021 when the lockdown was eased.
With a cut flower area, fruit and veg beds, rain water collecting station, 'muddy buddy' compost heap, quiet wildlife garden, secret den, polytunnel, raised beds, fruit trees and work tables this is an allotment like no other. A beautiful garden brimming with life and colour where children can pick buckets of dahlias, gorge on raspberries, fish tadpoles out of the pond, water the plants and each other, throw petal confetti, hold an elephant hawk moth caterpillar, make 'Michael Eavis' and 'Barbara' the scarecrows, feed the birds, pod peas, dig potatoes, make perfume and pick Colin and Harold the courgettes to name but a few!
From April to Christmas in 2021 and March to Christmas this year, I have/will run Skool Beanz gardening club every Saturday 10am-12pm on the allotment rain or shine. I also continue to teach gardening at the School on Friday afternoons, taking the children to the allotment or tending to the garden area in the school which I'm also transforming. My plans for 2023 are to run more clubs for schools and homeschooled children during term time and more holiday clubs.
With 1 in 6 children suffering from poor mental health according to an NHS survey conducted in Oct 2020 and 40% of our wildlife declined since the 1970's with the UK being one of the most nature depleted countries on Earth according to the 2019 State of Nature report, children and nature need our help more than ever. If we teach children how to create a beautiful garden, not only will it improve their physical and mental wellbeing it will benefit our precious wildlife.
''Growing your own food is like printing your own money... all you need to survive can come from your own garden'' The Gangster Gardener, L.A. - my biggest community gardening inspiration.
Teaching children how to sow seeds, grow fruit and veg, and harvest, store and prepare food they have grown are skills they will have forever. Skills they will teach their children and grandchildren.
My dream is to teach as many children, parents and teachers the joys of gardening and what can be achieved on an allotment or in your own garden with the best tips, advice and ways to engage young people which I have learnt over the past few years teaching gardening to children.
2023 has more exciting things in the pipeline for Skool Beanz. Acclaimed No Dig Market Gardener Charles Dowding's 'No Dig Children's Gardening Book' comes out on January 19th which I had the pleasure of contributing to. The National Garden Scheme are holding two open days at the Skool Beanz allotment on Saturday 15th April and Saturday 12th August and I'm hoping to take Skool Beanz to some local festivals after the success at Home Farm Festival this year.
Here is the dream shopping list:
Skool Beanz website: For parents to sign up to a monthly newsletter giving tips on what you can grow with your child each month. News and events updates. Booking/ payment to sign your child up to a Skool Beanz club. Option to donate. Buy merchandise. Info all about Skool Beanz and what we do.
Roll of insect mesh to protect veg plants.
Galvanised metal hoops to support insect mesh over veg beds.
Small shed to securely lock up tools and valuables.
4 Wooden arches
Raspberry post and wire trellis
Skool Beanz merchandise and stationary
Seeds for the year
Insurance for the allotment for a year
Any funds raised will help me take Skool Beanz forward to reach more children and their adults and get the allotment to it's full potential. *if extra funds are raised, they will go towards arts and crafts materials, plants, bulbs, paint etc, running costs and paying for children to attend.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read this and making a donation, no matter how small, evey little bit helps,