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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Kids get fingers green

A HOST of events are planned for the first Royal Horticultural Society National Gardening Week, an initiative to encourage people to get growing.

Between April 16 to 22, community plant and seed swaps, gardening advice clinics, workshops and garden parties are planned, along with input from gardening clubs, community groups and libraries.

There’s also a big push for schools to become involved, with the RHS Show Cardiff (April 20-22) being the launch pad for the first Young School Gardener of the Year competition – a nationwide search to find the best young grower in the land.

Get Kids Growing Day, an annual competition aimed at gardeners up to the age of 16, will be launched on April 20 and is a key initiative for the campaign week.

Divided into four age groups and aimed at the RHS campaign for school gardening, a teacher nominates a child by completing an online form by May 18.

The RHS then chooses the four best entrants from each age group, who receive digital cameras to make videos demonstrating why they’re such exemplary gardeners. They must submit the video by July 5.

A winner of each age group will receive gardening tools and £500 in garden gift vouchers for their schools.

The overall winner, crowned Young School Gardener of the Year 2012, will in addition spend a day at a RHS garden of their choice, working with a RHS gardener and receive family tickets to either RHS Tatton Park Flower Show or RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2013.

Jacky Chave, RHS strategic schools manager, says: “Gardening in schools is a fantastic way of engaging young people in learning. Thanks to our campaign more than half of all primary school pupils in the country are gardening.

“If through this competition we discover the next Monty Don, Alan Titchmarsh or Chris Collins, who in turn will inspire their friends and classmates to get into gardening, then how fantastic. Gardening needs new champions, young and old, and so what better place to start looking for them than in the school cabbage patch.”

Through Young School Gardener of the Year, the RHS hopes to encourage more children across the UK to garden. As demonstrated by RHS research, gardening is important as it teaches children key life skills, is good for their health and allows them to learn in a fun, practical way. There are 15,000 schools, nearly half of all UK schools, registered with the campaign.

If you’re not into competitions but would like to encourage your child into the garden, Sarah-Jane Mason, RHS schools project officer, has the following tips:

l Before you start planting seeds, ensure the children they have some ownership of the project.

l Allow them to choose and taste what plants they wish to grow before planting commences. Use images from seed catalogues or purchase examples of the crops for tastings.

l Be realistic about the timescales involved in growing the chosen plants. Some children will expect an instant garden and their enthusiasm may be dashed if misled. Grow some fast crops in another area to keep their interest.

l People wishing to get involved in National Gardening Week should register their interest at www.rhs.org.uk/nationalgardeningweek and website www.nationalgardeningweek.org.uk. They can follow the RHS on Twitter.

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