Now that spring is truly here, primary school students nationwide are busy getting their hands dirty – planting and growing seeds, flowers and herbs – as part of the ongoing Agri Aware food education initiative.
“When we returned to school in March and while we waited for our Incredible Edible packs to arrive, we put some tomato slices in compostable containers and added soil on top. We planted sunflowers all around the school grounds and collected seeds from our lunch boxes including peppers, apples, pears, peaches and plums. Our pumpkin seeds were planted and they will be ready for next Halloween.
“Along with our Incredible Edible seeds, we always try to plant pollinator-friendly flowers and herbs in our containers. Our lavender, marigolds and lilacs have created a real buzz in the garden. We work with the Galway Claddagh Swan Rescue, who have told us that their cygnets, ducklings and other birds love lettuce, spinach, peas and potatoes. Each year we donate our produce to them and they send us photos of the animals enjoying it.
“Now that we have returned to school and we are hearing how important fresh air is, many of our subjects can be made part of our planting activities. In Irish we learned that ‘sú talún’ means strawberry while ‘prátaí’ means potatoes. Our digging, cutting, raking and lifting all added up to several PE lessons.
“We planted our strawberries in our outdoor containers and our seed potatoes were placed straight into grow bags. Our cups are left close to the window where they will get plenty of light so they can germinate, but not directly in the sunlight as this can make them dry out quickly.
“Getting a break from technology is so important and that is why gardening is a regular part of our school day and homework activities in St Pat’s. While academic and sporting achievements often get the limelight, planting is an activity where everyone gets the opportunity for success. Last year, when we started this project, we would ask our teacher ‘Why are we going to the garden?’ Now, we say, ‘When are we going to the garden?’”
Look out for next month’s Incredible Edibles diary, where students take on task four – cooking and preparing some yummy healthy food. Visit incredibleedibles.ie for more information.