Getting dug in: Craggagh pupils inspect the growth of their seedlings
In conversation with Dan Charlton, school principal
Tell us a bit about your school
Craggagh National School is a 3-teacher country school, mid-way between Kiltimagh and Balla, Co Mayo, nestled at the foot of Sliabh Cairn. The school currently has 54 pupils.
Why did you start in growing food?
I am a keen GIYer myself and love to share this passion with the pupils. Many of the children live on farms or have vegetable gardens at home, so there is no shortage of interest or expertise in the school.
Is there a school garden?
Yes. Most of the vegetable growing happens in eight raised beds situated in the
What do the children grow?
One of the biggest challenges of a school garden is growing crops that are ready for harvest before the summer holidays. Our favourites are lettuce, annual spinach, rocket, scallions and radish.
The children discovered some varieties of carrots that are quick croppers, such as "Amsterdam Forcing".
What do the kids and school get out of it?
A school garden requires a fair bit of planning and teamwork, so when it's
time to harvest, there's a wonderful sense of pride and achievement. The use of a school garden can be integrated into so many subjects, there's literacy, numeracy, gaeilge, science, history, geography and SPHE as well as the fact that the work in a garden is great physical exercise and a really sociable activity.
Is the wider community or parents involved?
Many of our parents are growers themselves and love to lend a hand. A few parents send in spare plants that they've raised from seed themselves, some like to get involved at the preparation and sowing stage, while others can be found tending to one of our school's most prolific crops – weeds!
What was your school's finest hour when it comes to growing?
It's quite simple really but, it's fantastic when a child who is a reluctant vegetable eater is transformed to a GIYer. GIYing is a fabulous life skill, it's lovely to see children across the school working together with their teachers and parents to create their school garden.
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