HAMPSHIRE Gardens Trust (HGT) is delighted to launch its new ‘Garden Plans for Schools’ project.

It aims to inspire young people to take a closer interest in their surroundings by giving them an opportunity to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers.

The new initiative has started its first pilot scheme with the creation of an ‘Edible Playground’ at Oliver’s Battery Primary School and Nursery School.

The Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Vivian Achwal, who attended the official opening of the ‘Edible Playground’ last Friday, said: “It is so important to encourage children to develop healthy eating habits, so understanding of their local environment and where their food comes from is crucial. This project is a wonderful example of how children can learn and experience growing as part of a rich and varied curriculum.”

Project leader, professional gardener and horticulturalist, Ruth Farley set to work in February with the children, and a group of volunteers, on what was a bare and unused part of the school grounds. The garden is now full of wonderful produce - including a vibrant pollination bed for insects, as a result of the children’s weekly interaction. The project is supported by the headteacher, the PTA, governors and teachers.

Children at Olivers Battery Primary School in their new vegetable garden

Children at Oliver's Battery Primary School in their new vegetable garden

HGT Chairman, Ted Wake said: “It was a wonderful occasion and great to see the Mayor mingling with children, supporters, Governors, PTA members and the Oliver's Battery School team. The Hampshire Gardens Trust is proud to be associated with the school and very much hope that the OBS Garden Plans for Schools project becomes a beacon of excellence to inspire other schools in the wider county."

Carly Redfern, headteacher at the School, said: "It has been an incredible opportunity for our school community to work together with Hampshire Gardens Trust on developing the Edible Playground. All children, including our new Nursery Class, have had the opportunity to spend time planting seeds, watch them grow and sample some of the produce. It has been a joy to watch all children get involved and learn so much about horticulture. It is so exciting to think how these skills will support children in their future careers.

"We can't wait to continue the project next year and begin to embed the Edible Playground into our classroom practice. Our Year 5/6 team are already planting crops so that children can have a real experience of rationing when they tackle their World War One project in the Autumn Term."

Hampshire Gardens Trust: www.hgt.org.uk, Twitter and Instagram @hampshiregardenstrus