Garden Watch 2020 – time to volunteer

Garden Watch 2020 – time to volunteer

16th January 2020By nanhoodadminNo Comments

Volunteer gardener at the local school

Over the last year I keep seeing schools with raised gardening beds which are no longer being used. Time and again there are a few old plants gone to seed.  I asked why and was told ‘ we have no time’…’there is no budget for the plants and compost we need’…. ‘Our caretaker knows nothing about gardening’. 

My grandsons who are regular helpers in my garden did not even know their school had a garden.

Keeping chickens in the garden

At  one primary school I know they keep chickens, but it would appear not very well. The chickens were clean and fed but looked unhappy and there were no signs of eggs. 

Volunteer helpers come from unexpected places

One day a new parent, recently arrived in the area having been a refugee, immediately saw there was a problem. Through another parent she was able to explain what needed to be done. She was asked if she could help look after the chickens. She was delighted. 

Every little helps

The garden offers the chance for those with just a little time, whether parents or grandparents. to help. If you garden at home then perhaps bring along your extra seedlings, excess compost or gardening tools and show the teachers or the children what needs to be done to nurture the plants.  

A retired teacher threw some sparkling light on the commitment to gardening within the teaching profession as it has broad curriculum value. She said of the last school she taught at in Scotland ‘ we did a project which involved the whole school in growing vegetables  to make a big pot of soup. The project covered every single area of the curriculum.’

Reaching out to garden centres for the school

Go to the local garden centre and explain that you are a volunteer at a local school. You can ask for a discount or even a donation from supplies can be as useful as your time in digging and planting. This could be a one off like a water butt or a year long supply of feeds and seeds. 

Grow your own is better

You never know maybe a garden centre staff member could visit the school to talk about what can be achieved in a small area and why ‘grow your own’ is better. 

Becoming a volunteerThe school will ensure that any volunteer is covered by a Disclosure and Barring Check. You can see what this means here. It is intended to protect children. The application is made by the school.  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/550197/Regulated_activity_in_relation_to_children.pdf If you are NEVER to be left alone with children while volunteering the school may decide a DBS check is not needed. Or if you have a valid one from a job you held that may be sufficient.

Top Tips

  • Be prepared for a Disclosure and Barring (DBS) check to be done
  • Clarify whether you will work alone or with children
  • Agree what produce you want to grow eg., will you grow food to eat or perhaps festoon the classes with flowers. 
  • Think about timing to ensure produce reaches fruition in term time. 
  • Make sure plants can be cared for during holidays