Tigers and sweetcorn and cost benefit analysis

Transformation

This is one of the beds at one of my schools, put in in March and now flourishing with sweetcorn, leeks and sorrel. It’s part of a larger project of greening a grey playground that has been wonderful to be part of.  I started to write up some notes on the project last week trying to measure the impact the project has had. As a school gardener I’m often asked to provide schools with cold hard data in order for them to be able to allocate and justify funds for an outdoor project like this one.

Now, I can price this one bed at about £100 in terms of materials/labour/compost and seeds. It’s approximate because all of our beds are different sizes, we still have a bit of compost and wood left out of our bulk buys. In terms of usage so far at least 2 classes of children (50 in total) have observed/weeded/watered/snacked on this bed at least once a week for 20 weeks

Anyone able to do the calculation?

Does it help if I point out that the beds will probably last four seasons at least and we will gather seeds for next year? That we bought high quality compost to ensure a better growing season and that the compost bins we put in are already filling up?

Is it easier to measure if I tell you that I see children who aren’t part of the gardening classes grabbing a few leaves of sorrel to munch on as they scoot past or one of the children out with the SENCO stroking the sweetcorn leaves?

Obviously, but sadly, schools have to evaluate everything they do as part of the educational process. Each penny must be shown to ‘add value’ and each experience the children undertake must count towards the budget to meet targets.

Preparing our children for adulthood is now more like a business than ever before and as I operate in this world and need to be paid for my work to support my own family so I must understand the mechanics.

But I don’t have to like it.

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Millpond – painting heads gallery

A wonderful set of beds designed by Diane of Urban Eden Designs got painted in all sorts of animal patterns.

Animal Face Raised Beds

Raised Bed fun

One of the design features in the courtyard allotment needed to be a number of raised beds. Most of the area was tarmac and it was too expensive to dig it up. Diane from Urban Eden Designs came up with some beds that fitted in the best positions around the courtyard and had gorgeous animal faces on the end. We asked the children to vote as part of the design process and we

ended up with some fabulously individual beds.

 

Building raised beds


It does appear at first glance to be quite easy, but when the tarmac isn’t level and the bricks aren’t straight then building a three section bed up against a fence becomes quite a beast. Good job Diane has a sense of humour.

Millpond Trees

One aspect of the design was to make use of a grassy slope, recently fenced in which the children used as a cut through between two areas.

This could have been dug out and terraced but a much nicer option is to turn it into our fruit area. Four dwarf rootstock trees where put in, along with twenty red/white/blackcurrents, tayberry and blueberrys.

Purchased from the lovely Pennard Plants, they arrived promptly, beautifully carefully packaged and in great condition.

The next step was to dig some holes, so the next parent group meeting, we grabbed our spades and a group of fifteen parents started digging. There wasn’t a pattern to which went where, except for the blueberrys being next to each other.  It took maybe thirty minutes, they all had a good soak and we have high hopes for fruit this year. Except for the Tayberrys which we know will need longer.

Millpond Primary – Design

Diane’s design is gorgeous, lots of colour, a massive increase in growing area without impacting too much on playing area. What is currently grey and frankly quite dismal and boring will hopefully come alive with people growing and eating.

If you want to see the beautiful watercolour designs she created they are available on the Urban Eden School Gardening pages.

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