Food & Drink

Friday 1 August 2014

'Our outdoor classroom is one of our best resources'

Grow it yourself

Published 10/02/2014|02:30

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Sowing the seeds of education: children hard at work in the garden at Scoil Ide

Scoil Ide first opened its doors in 1964 with three classrooms. The school has grown over the years – at present Scoil Ide has almost 800 pupils and 40 full-time teaching staff.

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It is situated on the outskirts of Limerick city in a beautiful location adjacent to St Munchin's College secondary school and, of course, the lovely River Shannon. Nature abounds.

When did you start GIYing?

Down through the years various teachers in the school dabbled in growing flowers and vegetables, either using growing kits in their classrooms or in the various flower beds and green spaces around the school. It was when we constructed some raised beds to grow vegetables that we began to have notions of creating a proper school garden.

The idea quickly gained momentum and it became clear that we had an opportunity to create something unique and of huge educational value to the school.

When the design process was finished, not only was the garden to include four large raised vegetable beds but also a polytunnel, freshwater pond, a wildflower bank, wormery, a 'Mini-Beast Mansion' and compost area. Our outdoor classroom is definitely one of our school's greatest resources.

What do you grow?

You name it, we have grown it (or at least attempted to). Our greatest growing achievement would most likely be our pumpkins we grow each year for Halloween, although nothing gets the children more excited than digging up the potatoes. This year, our fourth class also grew the original 'Lumper' variety of potato in connection with their studies on the Famine, which was really interesting.

What do the children get out of it?

We see huge educational benefits to the children every year in terms of linking what is done in the classroom to practical activities outside. Whether it is growing vegetables, observing the pond-life, weeding, watering, measuring and recording data, or just for a five-minute break between classes, there is lots to be done, with each season bringing different jobs like any garden at home.

Does it change their attitude to food?

There is no doubt that there is a change in their attitude to food when they have invested time and effort in taking care of the plants and seeing them from setting of the seeds to the harvest. The vegetables grown in the school garden always taste better.

Irish Independent

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