A primary school in one of the most deprived areas in the country has received trees, plants and flowers worth thousands of pounds, thanks to The Independent on Sunday's Let Children Grow gardening campaign.
Children at the Kingsway primary in Goole, East Yorkshire, the IoS's beacon school, were overjoyed when they found out they were to be given exotic perennials such as fuchsias and hostas, as well as alpine strawberries and fruit trees from the landscape gardening manufacturer Marshalls. The donated plants graced the company's Chelsea Flower Show silver-gilt award-winning garden and were passed on to the school after the company heard about the IoS campaign.
The school gardens were relatively barren, with only grass and a patio to call outdoor features, before the campaign began. Recently pupils and staff had begun to plant seeds and had been harvesting fruit and vegetables after signing up to our scheme. And this weekend they were given a further boost when the gardens were turned into lush and delightful outdoor spaces as Marshalls staff bedded in £3,500-worth of plants, with the help of some of the pupils.
The school's head teacher, Liam Jackson, said: "Two big lorry-loads of plants arrived this week. It was fantastic. We had a staff training day that day and we all stopped to see what had turned up. There were two huge trees and the lorries were full with plants. It was a great day for both teachers and children."
An Ofsted report last year gave Kingsway school, which has 357 pupils, a "satisfactory" rating in an area of "considerable deprivation", but praised Mr Jackson, who arrived only six months earlier, for his "clear and direct leadership". Mr Jackson is determined to raise academic standards at the school and believes healthy eating and a good understanding of where food comes from are a good way to begin improving standards.
"The kids love doing it, which is the most important thing, especially trying the fresh food they have grown. Even the little ones join in – it's great," he said.
Prior to the Marshalls delivery, the school had been busy planting seeds and a community garden has been built, which Kingsway shares with a neighbouring school. The garden, which is filled with waterfalls and colourful flowers, was developed to give the children somewhere to visit to enjoy the benefits of their hard work.
Radishes, spinach and cabbage are just some of the self-grown vegetables the children have been tasting in their classrooms each morning after they have harvested the crops.
One pupil, Georgia Mason, 10, said: "I like our vegetables because they do not have all the additives in them that ones from supermarkets have. They are organic because they are fresh from our garden."
"I love garden club it's the best part of the week," said Sam Hayes, also 10. "At home now we grow garlic, onions and flowers. I will grow lots of vegetables and fruit when I grow up."
This weekend also saw the number of schools backing the campaign break the 1,000 mark. The scheme, working with the Royal Horticultural Society, has signed up 1,062 schools, representing around 212,000 pupils across the country.
Top prizes for your best plant photos
Last weekend The Independent on Sunday launched a photography competition to complement our Let Children Grow campaign, which aims to encourage pupils to become involved in gardening. Since April, when we launched the campaign with the Royal Horticultural Society, 1,062 schools have signed up, representing more than 212,000 children. Now we are asking them to show us the fruits of their labours. Parents or teachers, simply email us the best photograph by a child of your school's space – whether it is a garden, allotment or window-box – at firstname.lastname@example.org
The competition will run until the end of the month, and our expert panel will announce the winner and two runners-up in the edition of Sunday 5 July. First prize, kindly offered by Jessops and Marshalls, is a Sony Cybershot DSC-W290, 12.1 megapixel (rrp £239) for your school, plus three Woodstone Planter Kits consisting of 12 sleepers and four return and two intermediate posts. Second prize, donated by Marshalls, is two Woodstone Planter Kits, and third prize one Woodstone Planter Kit.
Terms and conditions
Closing date for the competition is 30 June 2009. Winning photo and runners-up will be announced in the paper on Sunday 5 July 2009. The planter kits are provided as materials only and do not include installation of other materials. All prizes will be delivered free of charge. Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash alternatives. A full set of terms and conditions can be found online at independent.co.uk/legal.