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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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Young gardeners plot for success

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GARDEN GANG: Dowdales School pupils Abigail Looker, Benjamin Crewdson and Katrina Holland pictured preparing their Dalton allotment JON GRANGER REF: 50033114B003

GREEN-FINGERED pupils at Dowdales School have started work on a new allotment in the hope that they can combine the environment with enterprise.

The youngsters, who are members of the Dalton school’s gardening club, have been rotovating the land, in preparation for planting potatoes and beans, which they hope to sell to the local community.

“As well as equipping pupils with skills in horticulture and developing their education, we are hoping the new allotment will teach them about running a business,” explains Martin Ellison, the school’s sustainability leader.

“We will be encouraging the students to draw up business plans for selling the produce they plant, and letting them take part in the whole process.”

Having recently received a £300 grant from GlaxoSmithKline, Dowdales has been able to purchase new gardening equipment, fertilizer and seeds to develop their existing allotment, as well as constructing the new, bigger plot.

“Although we already have an allotment off-site, we have always wanted one in the school grounds,” adds Martin.

“But despite having the space for it, we have never had enough money until recently receiving the cheque from Glaxo.

“The money is a great step forward for us, and we will certainly put it to good use.”

Along with selling organic food boxes to staff members and the wider community, the children will also be enjoying the fruits of their labour, as the produce grown on site will be cooked in the school canteen.

“We think it is very important to teach children to be eco-friendly and hope that they will go home and spread this message to their parents, so we can collectively help the environment.

“We already have a very good recycling scheme on site and have recently been teaching the children to save energy in the school, which earned us a Green Flag award.

“And we are hoping that all the money made from our allotments will go towards new, green-friendly projects, to help us gain the new ambassador status.”

It is not just students at Dowdales that look set to benefit from the new allotments, as members of the community will also get the chance to rent their own plots.

“At the moment, the waiting list for an allotment in Dalton is about 10 years, so we are hoping to get the community involved in our scheme by giving people the chance to come and use our plots in return for helping the children and teaching them about horticulture.”

Anyone interested in assisting the group is asked to call the school on 01229 897911.

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