This year our students are getting their hands dirty, literally. Neil Brickley, who is in charge of our CAS activities tells us about how he kicked off IIL’s new garden project:It all started out as a simple thought while I was in my own allotment at home earlier this year. Working outside in all weathers had allowed me to appreciate the value of creating something from almost nothing.
With a small group of Y12 CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) students who had shown enthusiasm for some ‘dirty’ work, we brainstormed hard and came up with a plan to build a flower and vegetable garden that would benefit the insects, birds (and possibly students) around our school. The idea was that all students would be able to use it either for lessons or simply as a quiet area for revision or reflection, this being one of the principal values of CAS.
As a group, we had lots of decisions to make especially if we were to allow every strand of CAS to be used during the project.
We decided to take photos of the garden, illustrating the progress from seed planting to lush harvest. We created a poster asking students and their parents to provide seeds, tools and watering cans. It worked really well and we designed small envelopes in which we repackaged the excess seeds which we then sold to staff to gather funds for items we really needed. We also recycled coffee cups from the schools canteen to grow several varieties of tomato from excess seed. They were housed in the sunny English Primary classrooms until the seeds had become small plants which were then labelled and sold on with our excess seeds.
Gardening can be an exhaustive exercise and all students fully expected to get hot and sweaty digging over, planting, weeding and watering the allotment.
As Service is one of CAS’s major strands, we agreed to give away the harvest to three separate good causes. Some vegetables grown will go to make a wonderfully nourishing soup for Primary students at IIL, these students aiding with every stage of its preparation, from harvest, to cleaning, peeling, cutting and finally cooking the soup. The rest of our harvest will be given as a gift to a local retirement home and some will be used as an APEIIL raffle prize to raise funds for one of their charities. Our students will do all the hard work and others will benefit directly, good Service indeed.
The CAS Gardening group decided to plant only vegetables that come to maturity in the autumn. That way, we would be able to harvest after the school break! Now beans, pumpkins, beets and carrots, cabbage, scallions and main crop onions, turnips and leeks have been planted and we are busy weeding and watering. It’s starting to grow!