An inspirational project in Cornwall which has seen green fingered children in care transform an outdated outdoor space into a no dig organic garden has won first place in a national gardening competition staged by ITV’s This Morning programme and the Sunday People newspaper.
The idea for the award-winning project, which saw traditional raised bed allotments transformed into the ‘no dig organic garden’ came from the young people following a review of garden activities.
The project is run by BootUp (which is led by Jane Atkinson) which is an independent Community Interest Company supported by Cornwall Council’s Virtual School for Children in Care. The programme was awarded joint first place in the Inspiration Street category of the national Cultivation Street competition, receiving £500 worth of National Garden Vouchers for its members.
This project which was set up six years ago, offers young people aged 11 to 14 from mainstream schools, Acorn Academies and Special Schools across Cornwall the opportunity to take part in hands-on gardening, horticultural and construction projects to help build their skills and confidence.
The transformation began with the young people scraping and reforming the allotments, and then mulching the mounds with manure and seaweed. While they waited for the spring to arrive so they could plant seeds they landscaped the outer area and created a wild flower garden, surrounded by saplings donated by the woodland trust, to provide shade and a location for wildlife. A bug-house was also created using junk gathered on site and pallets.
Once the beginning of the Spring term arrived the youngsters planted a range of seeds donated by the local Wilkinson’s store, including beans, cabbages, leeks, onions, carrots, beetroot, sunflowers, Calendula, chamomile, salads, mint and chard. Then followed months of work nurturing and watering the seeds, pricking them out and potting them on, putting them out under cloches to acclimatise, before planting them out into the garden. The young gardeners also erected a fence to help prevent rabbits from eating their crops and used hazel and willow weaving to create removable gates.
The young people involved in this project should be very proud of the work and effort they all put into this project to turn it from an unused and unloved area to this wonderful organic garden. This hard work has been recognised by jointly winning the national Cultivation Street competition. A fantastic accolade for all who took part.