We are thrilled to have just got the keys to the gate of Cardiff Steiner School’s first School Allotment – and are excited about the new opportunities it opens up for our students across all ages and areas of the curriculum.
Our new School Allotment is at Llandaff North Allotments, just two minutes from the School, opposite the Co-op at in Llandaff North village. It’s a great plot right next to the communal polytunnel, greenhouse and shop.
It has its own shed and two raised beds, very kindly built by members of the allotment site, who have also offered to clear and dig the most overgrown bits of the plot for us, and work with the pupils on horticulture and growing projects.
The Llandaff North Allotments (Twitter @AllotmentsNorth) were established around the time of the Second World War as part of a national scheme to provide plots of land for people to cultivate and produce their own fresh fruit and vegetables. It is a lovely site with over 200 plots, wildlife areas, ponds and picnic spots.
The School allotment has been acquired thanks to our Class 1 Teacher, Mr Kennard, who has worked hard, with the support of the Llandaff North Allotments Committee, to secure the plot. As well as being our Class 1 Teacher, Mr Kennard is Chairman of the Cardiff Allotment Holders Association, who advocate for, and support, allotment and community growing facilities in Cardiff. We are hugely grateful to Mr Kennard, the Commitee, and particularly 8o year old Committee member, Mac, whose suggestion it was to offer the School a plot in the first place.
Our initial plans are for Class 1 to spend one of their Outdoor lessons a week at the allotment (Wednesday or Friday). Class 2/3 will spend every other week of their Outdoor Curriculum double lesson at the plot, alternating with den building at Hailey Park woods. They will also be using the plot in their upcoming Farming Main Lesson Block to grow wheat, barley, oats and rye.
There are numerous other opportunities for Middle and Upper School use in the curriculum, from Botany and Biology to Business Maths and community projects such as growing food for community events and fundraising markets. Kindergarten are also looking at how they can use the site as part of the’ Expedition Day’ curriculum on Fridays.
A soul connection to the earth and cycles of the year
Gardening provides an inquisitive and rewarding approach to learning. Children enjoy being outdoors, they’re curious and like to learn by doing and being creative. Gardening offers them hands-on, experiential learning opportunities across the curriculum, including in the natural and social sciences, maths, english, visual arts and nutrition, as well as helping develop life skills, improve well-being and raise environmental awareness.
Our allotment offers all this plus the added benefits of community growing and increased participation and connection with our local community.
With widespread evidence that young people have become distanced from nature, combined with modern industrial farming and mass food retailing, children have become less and less dependent on the earth and cycles of the year. Gardening gives children the satisfaction of watching something evolve from a tiny seed planted into a beautiful plant or vegetable which they can later eat – helping them experience real gratitude for the food that’s on our tables and giving them a soul connection to the earth and cycles of the year.
It closes the ‘nature gap’ making the connection between source and pre-packed product, the interdependence between the rural and urban environments, the importance of food, farming, agriculture, green spaces and the wildlife they sustain.
Watch this space for news of our evolving School Allotment…