Cavendish Road, Didsbury
Since 2009, pupils at Cavendish Community Primary School have grown an abundance of tasty fruit and vegetables on their school grounds – including tomatoes, beans, peas, sweetcorn and strawberries.
The food growing project was the combined idea of parents, governors, teachers and pupils. The idea was to fit in with Sustainable Schools and healthy eating programmes, as well as to teach children valuable food growing skills and connect them with where food comes from.
Using natural and reused materials, pupils created a food growing area on the school playing field under the guidance of Leonie Morris, the Gardening Project Coordinator. Old tyres became plant containers, logs were used to create raised beds, and, with the help of volunteers, a huge polytunnel was constructed to use as an extra growing space and outdoor classroom. The enthusiasm of staff and pupils led to additional vegetable patches being created in the Nursery and Reception areas.
The children have used the food in cooking sessions during the school day, school holiday club and the after-school gardening club. Produce has also been used in delicious dishes for parents and pupils to enjoy during the May and September Harvest Festivals.
Since the start of the project, Leonie has run food growing sessions with several classes each week, along with the after-school gardening club, which gives both parents and children the opportunity to learn to grow their own food. Children, parents, teachers and volunteers from the local community have also come together to plant an orchard next to the vegetable patch. Apple, plum, damson, cherry and fig trees are now all growing well. Over the coming years the newly planted orchard will come into its own, and hopefully in the future the whole school can benefit from mid-morning fruit and veg snacks from its own back garden!
The Wood School
Paupers Wood, Nell Lane, Didsbury
Open fire cooking takes places every week in Paupers Wood. This is the location of The Wood School, an outdoor learning experience for children of primary school age.
There is a weekly pre-school session on the site, when popcorn and Welsh cakes are regular guests.
Forest School sessions for all age groups – where the children learn skills such as fire lighting and cooking over the fire – are always a particular highlight. Children soon learn that the flames can produce disastrous results with blackening of food or burning of cakes.
Early Years Nursery School
Palatine Road, Didsbury
Using colourfully painted tyres, in 2008 a vegetable patch was created in the playground at Early Years Nursery School. Since then, children and staff have grown potatoes, spinach, broad beans, runner beans, garlic and several herbs such as mint, chives and parsley.
The nursery cook, Lorraine Tolland, has used this produce to create delicious meals for the children, often involving them in the cooking process so they get a real understanding of the connection between the food they grow and what they eat.
The children have also put their food growing skills to good use at the Abundance Manchester vegetable plot, which is conveniently located two minutes walk from the nursery at the end of the car park! The children take some of the produce they harvest back to the nursery with them, while the rest is distributed by Abundance volunteers.
© Amanda Woodvine for Didsbury Dinners, 2o11. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the copyright owner.
Food photography: © Chava Eichner