Children at a Calder Valley school celebrated a year of growing when completing work on their wildlife-friendly garden at a local allotment.
The youngsters from Cragg Vale School have had a hand in every stage of developing the garden at the RedAcre Growing Project’s allotments at the end of Westfield Terrace, Mytholmroyd, learning all the time as they saw their project bloom.
Philip Cheshire-Neal, Chairman of RedAcre Growing Project, successfully applied for funding from Hebden Royd Town Council, the Kerbside Fund via the Community Foundation For Calderdale and the Friends of Cragg Vale School (the school’s parent fundraising body) to realise a dream which has also ticked many practical National Curriculum boxes for the children.
Philip said: “I have always dreamed of getting schools down to our beautiful allotments to inspire a love of plants and wildlife, and this project felt like the perfect opportunity.
“The children have loved it, and we have had some amazing feedback from it. The project was a multi-disciplined task that feeds into the National Curriculum.
“If any other school wants to come along, they can contact us,” he said. You can find details on the group’s website, www.redace.org
The project employed a local Mytholmroyd horticultural therapist to lead a series of on-site and classroom based sessions to create a Garden for Wildlife.
Starting in last September and October, each of the three classes taking part separately visited Red Acre Growing Project, which is a community allotment project.
At this initial visit they were introduced to the organic allotments, sowed an area of wild flowers, met Mytholmroyd Bee Group who highlighted the difficult plight of the honey bee, and were shown the area which had been created for them to turn into a haven for bees, butterflies and all manner of wildlife.
Volunteers from Community Payback cleared the proposed bed and built a dry stone wall to frame the area to be planted.
Philip said: “During the winter months the children had to research plants which would attract insects and choose which plant they would like to include in the flower bed. This ranged from reception and Year One children drawing their flower and saying why they chose it to Year Six children preparing detailed presentations of why their chosen plant would be suitable, taking in climate, frost hardy, perennial and soil type factors as well as being good for insects.
“The children then had to come up with a planting design for the bed. These plans were colourful and many included either ‘CV’ or the three arches which are on the Cragg Vale School Badge.”
The three arches were incorporated into the bed as stone pathways dividing the area in to three clear spaces, for Classes One, two and Three to be able to plant up respectively. The deal that had been made with the children was whatever plant they had chosen would be bought and planted, said Philip. The lists came in and all the plants were sourced ready for planting in the summer term.
“Each class again made separate visits and every child got to plant the actual plant they had chosen - the flowerbed was transformed. The children were then set with the task of creating a sign which would match the beauty of the flowerbed, at which they excelled. Each child drew either a flower or an insect, these were collaged together, photographed and made into a permanent sign which now stands behind the flowerbed,” said Philip.
The last few weeks have seen the final stage of the project under way, with the planting of several hundred bulbs, daffodils, tulips and alliums, to ensure the flowerbed announces the arrival of spring and provides valuable nectar for most of the year.
The children are also constructing a bug hotel out of old pallets and recycled materials.
Philip said: “The tiny flowers planting at the beginning of summer look amazing as a towering forest of blooms. We would like to express our thanks to the funders, and all the children of Cragg Vale Junior and Infant School for creating such an inspiring bed of beauty which will look amazing, year after year.”