I started to run my first school garden in London over 5 years ago. I wanted to give the school a space where teachers could take their classes to teach outside for practical hands on learning, where children could experience harvesting and eating their own homegrown food and a space to link the school to its natural environment.
I set up my gardens so that they function as outdoor classrooms, so that a class of children can come outside and feel safe and engaged within the garden. Once the gardens are built, (often calling on local corporate volunteers to help) I will have created a space that will inspire not just pupils but also the teachers, parents and the local community.
We grow some unusual fruits and vegetables that inspire the pupils to get them excited and surprised about gardening. I run lessons across all curriculum subjects using the garden as a hands on teaching resource.
I now run six school gardens in East London at Chisenhale, John Scurr, Orchard, Southwold, Hoxton Garden and Selwyn Primary schools where I run projects throughout the year to get the garden integrated into the curriculum for all year groups. I love my gardens and the reward of a child discovering the world of gardening and plants is incredible.
We are taking part in an incredibly exciting project with the RHS and the European Space Agency to grow seeds which have been in space. After being held for about six months in microgravity on the International Space Station, the seeds will be returned to Earth with astronaut Scott Kelly, around March 2016. Click the image for more information on the project and a link showing the seeds take off into space!
Working with schools gardens led me to write my first gardening book- Grow Your Own Ingredients-Pasta Sauce. I have also written ‘Homegrown Tea- how to grow and blend your own homegrown teas and tisanes’ and ‘Grow Your Own Ingredients- Ice Cream’. Please visit my website www.cassieliversidge.com or follow me on twitter and Facebook.
If your school is interested in Grow Your Own Playgrounds, please contact me via my contacts page.