by Justine Sweeney, Clonakilty GIY
The school may be out for summer but in Timoleague the children and families are still busy attending their newly created school garden. This project was the brainchild of Susan Jackson, an active member and part of the steering committee of the Clonakilty Grow It Yourself group. Susan wanted an opportunity to introduce food growing to children; she is a parent of four children with three attending the school and so approached the school principal Mrs Harte, who was delighted with this great idea. Susan visited the GIY Clonakiltys’ meeting in June to tell us all about the school project.
The location of the garden is in the small playground in the school on a very sloped site, which was originally full of shrubs. The large task of clearing and setting out beds fell on the shoulders of the fifth and sixth class. The students cleared out most of the shrubs and then enriched the very poor soil with seaweed they collected from the beach, cow manure, worm compost and goat manure from their own homes.
Classes were then allocated their own areas to grow — these included trugs, recycled containers, wheelbarrows, raised beds, boots and even a kettle filled with mint to make mint tea! They now have a wonderful array of food growing, from the humble spud to the more adventurous chard, pak choi, mitzuna and walking stick onions. What an inspiring use of space. The school windowsills did not escape the school makeover, all 22 window boxes have been filled with wonderful flowers and strawberries. The mix of 1:1 compost and well-rotted manure works well for containers.
This little garden has not gone unnoticed by the passing public and tourists who stop to admire it. In June, they were delighted to hear that they were winners of the Muintir Na Tira, School Garden Competition in their category for ‘Best small Garden’ in County Cork.
Another achievement was the winning of a €100 voucher from Fruithill Farms in Bantry for another school garden competition entered by the Fifth and Sixth class. They purchased two bug hotels and seeds for next year’s garden with the prize money.
They have a wonderful school website with photos of the gardens progress. www.timoleaguens.com/aboutus/schoolgarden
Our next GIY Clonakilty meeting is in O’Donovan’s Hotel at 8pm on September 8. This is our first meeting after our summer break. Harvest will be the theme with a cooking demonstration and food tasting on the evening. Please bring along some raw produce, cooked dishes, chutneys, jams, cakes or savoury bakes etc and of course your recipes to share. We will have a questions and answers session so please bring along any questions of the problems you experienced this summer. This meeting is open to the public so bring along some friends and lets celebrate our superb growing season in style.
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