Here We Grow

By Niamh Eastwood, Molly Rea and Beth Everitt   -  By Emma Bird

When we were at primary school there was this garden. It had lots of plants that attracted butterflies and wildlife and we did projects in classes on the bugs that lived there and go and collect samples and stuff.

But when we went back to see the garden we discovered it had just stopped being used or looked after.We just loved that garden when we were there and it was kind of a shame that it was gone. So we thought we could give it another go.

We emailed the head teacher to start with, and then arranged for a trip to meet him after school to tell him our ideas. Going back to our old school was so strange, but the funniest thing was seeing some of our old artwork still on the walls. Our names were still on there and everything.

When we told the head teacher what we wanted to do he asked if we could put in a sensory garden as well. He wanted to grow stuff like lavender as he grows it in his garden and the previous year the pupils made lavender pouches to give to the elderly in the village – like all the children had gone out together to give them out.

So we had permission to do the garden but it turned out the ‘doing’ part wasn’t the difficult bit, it was all the planning beforehand that was hard.

There was a lot of indecision in the group to start off with. The toughest part was that there were 8 different people with 8 different opinions and trying to keep everyone happy. Everyone had their own ideas but we weren’t actually doing anything. We got to the point where we just knew we had to take action to get the project moving, we just had to take the lead and make a decision for the group.

After restoring the garden to its former glory the Envision team hosted a gardening club to introduce the pupils to their new gardenWe decided to hold a meeting and we planned what we were going to say. We made notes and one of them said ‘no talking about plants’ as we knew that we needed to move on from that conversation and sort out the other parts of the project.

Niamh really became the leader. She was the best person for the job because no one would really argue with her. She was just fair and firm.

Once we’d made a decision and started to take control it all just happened really quickly and everyone was just really happy after that.

We really wanted to make sure the garden would attract wildlife so we needed to put in the right plants and lots of bug boxes. We knew we didn’t have enough money to put in loads of them as they’re really expensive so we looked at ways of raising money. We organised a sponsored walk and raised £200 and we applied for £300 from O2 Think Big. We also approached Water Orton Council who gave us £100 and Thomas Doyle Charity who gave us £50 to spend on materials.Then once we had everything ready we spent two weekends clearing the site and planting the garden.

The most rewarding bit was when we went back to the school to introduce the children to the garden and show them how to look after it. That was when it all came together. Because before, when we were planting, we could imagine the children using it but actually working with them and seeing them playing with it and having fun, it was really special.

The whole organisation of the project has just been really useful experience. We’d done small things with school before but the teacher was the one who took responsibility of it. Whereas this project was totally down to us and it was quite a big responsibility. It was the first time any of us had kind of taken on the role of adult - of leading a group.

It was bigger than anything we’d one before with the money and everything. It allowed us to really do what we wanted and it was quite personal to us. We could truthfully say we did this. It wasn’t something we helped out with; it was something we’d done - all of it.