Get your kids gardening with our great giveaway
PUBLISHED: 16:57 24 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:57 24 January 2020
Collect coupons to win a share of £10,000 worth of gardening goodies for your local primary school with the Plant to Plate scheme.
Everyone can grow their own food and have fun while doing it. They can learn a lot, too - especially if they start young. That's the message of the Plant to Plate scheme, sponsored by PlantGrow.
We've teamed up with Enjoy Gardening More to help primary schools across the region get their children outside, learning about food and growing their own vegetables. Every school collecting more than 1,000 coupons will bag a gardening pack worth £130.
The six schools with the most coupons (as an average per pupil) will win £1,000 of gardening equipment, plus individual advice from Enjoy Gardening More's head gardener, Peter McDermott.
Of course, many primary schools already have a strong tradition of gardening with their pupils. Carlton Colville Primary, on the outskirts of Lowestoft, has been running a gardening club for years - and last year began growing veg on an allotment.
"We had a lot of support from the local allotment society. That made all the difference," says reception teacher and SENCo Jane Carruthers, who coordinates the school gardening club.
"It was the council who suggested we could help the school," explains David Peek, chairman of Borrow Close Allotments Society. "It's quite a large plot. We started in the autumn and got it tidied up, then the school children began coming out to help when the weather got better."
Just being outside really helps the children, according to Jane: "As SENCo, sometimes I'd have a small group of children who were finding it difficult to settle in class, so outside learning really helps them."
The children work on the allotment, under the supervision of the teachers and David, as well as Brian Spalding and Melissa Norton from Borrow Close. "We have a meeting at the start of each session and the children are all ears," David says. "They'll go off and do their tasks. The teachers have to round them up at the end of it, they get so involved."
They might be young, but David gets the children doing all sorts of jobs on the allotment, from planting seeds to hand-pollinating melons in the polytunnel to helping harvest the crops.
"The children's reaction to the plants is amazing, especially when they see the vegetables," says Jane. "Potatoes are amazing - they're like digging up buried treasure."
Jane was so impressed with the progress of the allotment that she entered it for the 2019 Lowestoft in Bloom competition.
"The judges came around to assess the plot and the children spoke with them - it was amazing how much they knew," recalls David. "We won gold for the allotment, silver for our scarecrow and bronze for our flowers and herbs."
Though the glory was shared by everyone who worked on the Carlton Colville Primary allotment, the real winners were the children. "Having the allotment as a resource to go out and teach science is fantastic," says Jane. "It really does help the children learn about food when they actually see it coming out of the soil. It educates them about healthy eating and even encourages them to try new foods they might not have eaten before."
Can the Plant to Plate scheme help such a successful school garden? Definitely. "Winning one of the 'Plant to Plate' top prizes would mean that we could offer even more children the opportunity to discover the wonders of growing their own produce," concludes Jane.
HOW TO TAKE PART
Plant to Plate is a token-collect scheme, with £10,000 worth of gardening equipment waiting to be shared between schools across the region. It will help schools create their own vegetable gardens. It not only contributes to their learning but also gives children the chance to engage with their environment, enjoy the great outdoors and pick up valuable life skills.
Every school that collects more than 1,000 tokens will receive a gardening pack worth £130 that includes strawberry runners, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, tomato planters, potato planters, herbs, compost, a planting kit and planting guides - plus recipe ideas, to make the most of the produce grown.
The six schools (three in Norfolk, three in Suffolk) collecting the most tokens per pupil will also collect £1,000 worth of gardening equipment and personal advice from Peter McDermott, head gardener at Enjoy Gardening More. Judging the scheme on tokens per pupil means all schools have a chance, no matter how large or small.
How to register
There's still time to register (many already have - check with your school office). Simply email email@example.com with the school name, postal address and phone number, plus a contact name and email address.
Where to collect tokens
Tokens will be published in the Eastern Daily Press, Norwich Evening News and East Anglian Daily Times (two on Saturday), Ipswich Star, North Norfolk News, Dereham Times, Fakenham Times, Beccles & Bungay Journal, Lowestoft Journal and Great Yarmouth Mercury.
When to collect
Tokens are printed in every edition - with double tokens on Saturdays. The final tokens will appear on Friday, March 27. Schools have until April 3 to submit their tokens.