Ini­tia­tive of­fers growth spurt

He­len O’Cal­laghan looks at a very healthy col­lab­o­ra­tion

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Parenting -

IN­STANT grat­i­fi­ca­tion isn’t gen­er­ally con­sid­ered great for kids but at Castle­mar­tyr NS, teach­ers are set to get pupils plant­ing salad leaves — rocket and mus­tard seed — be­cause they grow quickly, giv­ing chil­dren a sense of al­most im­me­di­ate sat­is­fac­tion that in it­self is a re­ward for their work.

The 279-pupil school is one of nine in Cork se­lected to get a Slow Food Ed­u­ca­tional Project de­liv­ered as a re­sult of a part­ner­ship be­tween Bal­ly­maloe Cook­ery School and GIY.

The schools will be sup­ported by GIY as they start or de­velop an ex­ist­ing school gar­den, with a team vis­it­ing the schools this spring to pro­vide ed­u­ca­tional re­sources. A monthly re­source pack tai­lor-made for each school in­cludes tips on what to grow when, a grow­ing cal­en­dar, les­son plans, and other food em­pa­thy mes­sages.

Castle­mar­tyr NS prin­ci­pal Jane Flan­nery says her school was rec­om­mended to grow blight-re­sis­tant pota­toes. “They can be har­vested by the chil­dren in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber. We were ad­vised to go for crops where the pupils can ex­pe­ri­ence plant­ing and har­vest­ing. With the in­ten­tion of har­vest­ing in May and June, we de­cided on pears and salad leaves. Pump­kins and dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of gourd were also rec­om­mended be­cause there’s very lit­tle main­te­nance dur­ing sum­mer [when schools are off].”

Da­rina Allen of Bal­ly­maloe says the ex­pe­ri­ence of grow­ing their own food is ex­cit­ing and hands-on for chil­dren. “This is an in­valu­able life skill not cur­rently on the cur­ricu­lum, which will help to stim­u­late en­thu­si­asm for de­li­cious and nu­tri­tious home-grown food and the health ben­e­fits that go with it.”

Flan­nery says a project like this is ground­ing for pupils. “This should raise aware­ness of bio­di­ver­sity and all crea­tures’ place in the food chain. And it’s good for chil­dren to see the logic of how things must be done in terms of grow­ing food.”

Bal­ly­maloe and GIY are de­liv­er­ing the Food Ed­u­ca­tional Project through the GROW Cir­cle. This of­fers or­gan­i­sa­tions, busi­nesses, and com­pa­nies the op­por­tu­nity to spon­sor a GIY ini­tia­tive that ben­e­fits their em­ploy­ees, their com­mu­nity, lo­cal schools, or a so­cial cause close to their heart. Op­por­tu­ni­ties range from sup­port­ing com­mu­nity mar­kets in ru­ral ar­eas to so­cial and ther­a­peu­tic hor­ti­cul­ture pro­grammes in drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and di­rect pro­vi­sion cen­tres, to de­liv­er­ing so­cial eat­ing pro­grammes or in­stalling gar­dens in schools.

Pic: P Browne

DIG IN: Karen O’Dono­hoe, GIY; Da­rina Allen, Bal­ly­maloe Cook­ery School, and Micheala Fro­barth, pupil.

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