VILLAGE pupils in Stockton have been using their green fingers to great effect in the community garden on the site of the school.
Established by grants from Warwickshire County Council, Stockton Parish Council and the Heart of England Co-op, the Stockton Community Garden Project uses proceeds from sales of plants and flowers to finance itself.
Named after a Rector of Stockton who achieved national acclaim in the late nineteenth century as a radical, benevolent parson, the Tuckwell Garden is a year into its life. The garden has become an integral part of the community, having involved many residents at some stage.
When the scheme to establish a garden began last May, volunteers in the community did the groundwork. Several hardy volunteers built a fence, a weed fleece was laid over the whole area and raised beds put down whilst greenhouses were erected.
Other volunteers built a metal gate into the garden from the playground whilst others filled raised beds.
Once the garden was ready, a chicken run was built and a local egg producer gave the school six chickens providing six eggs a day which are sold to members of the community.
Helped by volunteers, the schoolchildren planted and tended vegetables such as runner beans, courgettes, aubergines, tomatoes, peas and lettuces.
At family assembly on Friday, pupils from the school sell the fresh vegetables and flowers grown at the school to parents and local residents. The proceeds, along with money from local open garden days, are ploughed back into the garden on seeds, tools and gloves, as it has become a self-financing venture.
It is also an educational tool. As well as learning about foods and the environmental aspects of working in a garden the installation of a mini weather station with a thermometer, rain gauge, wind indicator and barometer has helped the children build a long term picture of weather patterns.
Chairman of Stockton Parish Council, Cllr Howard Collerson, describes how the local community has joined forces to ensure that the garden has been a success. He said: “Once we had received the grants and were up and running, the community got started. Volunteers have always been available to help; when 10 tonnes of topsoil was dropped at the gate, and we were told we had two days to move it, a local farmer did the job for us in an hour. That’s just one of many examples. Everyone in the community can be proud of their involvement in this garden. Bulbs planted for parents’ Christmas presents have been sponsored by residents who have also donated plants.
“But most of all, we have been staggered by the dedication of the children whose efforts at the gardening club in selling their produce have been the reason that this community garden is such a success.”
Cllr John Appleton of Warwickshire County Council said: “When the grant was awarded to the school, this is precisely what the county council envisaged although we have been very pleasantly surprised at how the venture has grown.
“Teaching children about the advantages of healthy eating and giving them exercise and an enjoyable recreation are obvious benefits of the garden. But the way in which the other residents have become involved and the incredible community cohesion this project has brought about is what makes it such a good example of how a little can go a long way.”
The children are also receiving lessons on cooking with the vegetables that they have grown.
Lucy, a year 3 pupil is one of the children who has enjoyed the gardening.
She has the final say on what the garden means to her. “We’ve been planting different types of flowers which we’ve paid for by selling some leeks. I enjoy doing this. I didn’t know much about plants before but now I’ve learnt new words and how plants grow.
The picture shows Cllr Howard Collerson, chairman of Stockton Parish Council, Cllr John Appleton, Warwickshire County Council and Key stage 2 pupils Lucy and Joe of Stockton Primary School.