Pupils at two Wellingborough schools have used their gardening skills to win a share of a £1,000 prize.
Croyland Nursery School and Avenue Infant School have been declared the joint winners in a unique competition aimed at getting children to eat more vegetables.
The pupils competed against other primary-aged children in the borough to create the best edible border – a raised bed for growing vegetables. The idea of the competition was to help children learn about growing their own produce rather than simply seeing the end result in a supermarket, and to help them understand the importance of vegetables in a healthy diet.
The competition was the idea of Wellingborough Norse, the company that carries out environmental services on behalf of the council, and sponsored by local organisation DA Efficient Gas Services.
It began back in February, when the two companies gave participating schools everything they needed to get their edible borders up and running, including a variety of vegetable seeds, fertiliser, sleepers to create the raised beds, and child-sized tools and gloves. The children then had to maintain the borders, harvest the produce and show what they had learned, before judges determined who had done the best job.
Dean Granger, one of the judges from Wellingborough Norse, said: “We visited all the participating schools, looked at what they’d grown, and asked the children questions. We were really impressed by all of the children, they clearly understood what they were trying to achieve and why they were doing it.
“Croyland and Avenue had both done particularly well. It was difficult to choose between them so we agreed to have joint winners and split the prize.
“Children from Croyland had kept a large diary of the different stages of growing, which was put together really well, and Avenue pupils produced amazing final results and also made other food products with what they’d grown, such as fruit juices and herb dips.”
Jo Putman, executive assistant head at Croyland Nursery School, said: “The children and staff thoroughly enjoyed taking part. We learned all about each of the seeds and vegetables and had lots of fun eating them in a yummy stir fry. We will definitely continue planting with the children, they not only learned about how to look after the plants but also where food comes from. We can’t wait to buy some new resources for our outside area and continue with the work that we started this year with the planting.”
Nina Fowle, parent link worker at the Avenue Infant School, said: “The children who took part were such eager participants and thoroughly enjoyed the project. We firmly believe they were better educated in the growing of fruit and vegetables because they were able to watch the process from start to finish; seed to end product. They also learned how to look after their growing produce and cooked recipes using the vegetables they grew – Courgette Provençale was a particular favourite. The experience was so rewarding that we have continued with our garden club with exciting plans to make it even better this year.”
The schools will each receive £500, to be spent on equipment for the school or to continue their gardens.