Thursday 20 June 2019

Sowing the seeds for a healthy life at Kilcoskan National School

Around Fingal

Getting their hands dirty for the Kilcoskan ‘Big Grow’
Getting their hands dirty for the Kilcoskan ‘Big Grow’

A primary school in Fingal is sowing the seeds of good living by promoting healthy eating for its students, showing them life outside the classroom and throwing in a spot of gardening along the way.

The students of Kilcoskan National School in Coolquay, The Ward are taking part in The Big Grow initiative, launched by Innocent and GIY (Grow it yourself experts.)

The initiative is helping up to 56,000 school children across the country to grow their own vegetables in an effort to promote healthy eating amongst primary school students.

According to Innocent Big Grow, now in its eighth year, studies have shown that when children grow their own vegetables, they are more likely to eat them, and the students of Kilcoskan National School have proved just that.

Special Needs Assistant Grainne McKeon, who holds a gardening class for her green fingered students explains:

'We came up with the idea about two years ago. They (Innocent Big Grow) sent the principal an email, then I got in touch with them and they sent out the package. They sent out moss peat, pots, seeds of peas, tomatoes and crest. I bought other stuff myself like spinach and sunflowers, and we did a whole range of things.

'It helps the kids socially and gets them out of the classroom doing something hands on. They love it. You get your package in the post, you work with all with the kids, sowing the seeds, potting it up, then planting, then you take photographs of the different stages and send photos into Big Grow to show them how it's going.

Grainne herself worked as a horticulturalist and landscaper in the past, so she's well used to getting her hands dirty. The school built a vegetable garden and flower bed three years ago, with each class (Grainne holds after-school classes too) having a 4ft x 2ft plot each. As well as fruit and vegetables, pumpkins are also grown, which are used in October for Halloween.

The gardening is particularly beneficial to special needs students, as Grainne explains:

'It's a huge thing to do something like that for the special needs kids, because that's something maybe down the road they would be able to get into.

'It's getting them used to the texture; texture is brilliant for special needs, hands-on, muck and water, they love it. As far as learning about seeds and growing, they wouldn't do that, but down the road if I do it again next year and the year after, they certainly would more and more.

'Parents love the idea, and can see the garden when they're collecting the kids. Any extra produce is given to the parents or raffled off. It's all part of the school curriculum and in promoting healthy eating for the kids.'

For all the hard work (and fun) the boys and girls of Kilcoskan National School have put in, they're sure to reap the rewards.

Fingal Independent