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Words: Emma Schofield – Education Liaison Officer, Lincolnshire Gardens Trust
Photography: Lincolnshire Gardens Trust
Featured in the July 2014 issue

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Lincolnshire Gardens Trust launches the Open Schools Gardens.

Gardening is not just for grown-ups, just for summer or just for those with large gardens or school grounds. There are hundreds of ways children can have fun both in and outdoors, caring for their school’s environment – from tending miniature gardens, hanging baskets, pond areas and garden pots to planting bulbs, weeding, digging and watering vegetable plots.

Children working outdoors is not a new radical agenda but a thoughtful, engaging approach to learning. It is an exciting, sensible and increasingly necessary part of school life as many children are spending too much time learning about the world through TV and the internet rather than going out and finding out things for themselves.

I am passionate about children having opportunities to gain first-hand experience through real life learning outdoors, to develop their understanding of the importance they have in the care and responsibility for the environment.

All children love to get outside to engage with the natural world. This has been recognised by the Lincolnshire Gardens Trust for many years; after all, these little eco-warriors are our gardeners of the future. In recent years, Lincolnshire Gardens Trust has run a Schools’ Celebration event at the end of each summer term. Local schools across the county have been visited by a member of our committee and received recognition for the green fingered endeavours of staff and children in their school grounds. In my role as Education Liaison Officer for Lincolnshire Gardens Trust, I am often in the privileged position of visiting and giving advice to schools and other establishments regarding how to make the best use of their outdoor spaces.

I have witnessed first-hand how important it is that school grounds are developed to promote direct engagement with the natural environment.

Schools do not need elaborate areas to get children learning outside; with careful reshaping and involvement of the children, beautiful, interest-rich school grounds can be created. Taking small steps over time, whilst embedding an ethos of sustainability along the way, is essential and all over Lincolnshire schools are carrying out great work with the children in their care. So with the ‘growing’ amount of excellent work across the county, we feel as a Trust that it’s time for a change in our Celebration approach.

As a Trust, we are inviting all schools across our county to take part in our first Schools’ Open Gardens Weekend on either Saturday 5th July or Sunday 6th July, 2014.

We are encouraging schools to open their school grounds for a two-hour slot for the public to come and celebrate the hard work of the children, staff, parents and wider school community. Donations at the gate, with the enticement of a nice cuppa, we feel sure will encourage visitors to the gardens. We hope this will become an annual event in which the schools will want to take part and we ask you to support any local school that participates.

The event will celebrate the school community’s efforts to enhance their outdoor environment for the benefit of their children and to raise funds for more gardening activities to be carried out, as well as providing an opportunity for many more people to see what fantastic work is going on in school grounds across the county.

Our Trust has a commitment to help and encourage schools to develop their school grounds, no matter how small or large. We can offer advice and help in maintaining specific areas within your grounds, for example growing vegetables and managing conservation areas. Every little seed of knowledge we can pass on may germinate into a bumper crop of future gardeners and carers and protectors of the environment. Watching children ‘blossom’ in their gardening efforts is really something to celebrate, so join in with the Lincolnshire Gardens Trust Schools’ Open Gardens Weekend.

Schools taking part this year:
• Holy Trinity Primary, Tattershall – Sat 5th 1-3pm
• Nettleham Infant School – Sat 5th 10.30-12.30pm
• Boston West Academy – Sun 6th 1-4 pm
• Gosberton House Special School – Sun 6th 12-4pm
• The Priory School, Lincoln – Sun 6th 10am-12noon
• St Francis Special School, Lincoln – Tue 15th July 1-3pm

There is still time for schools to take part in 2014 or register interest for next year’s event.

Please contact: Mrs Emma Schofield (Education Team, Lincolnshire Gardens Trust), emma.schofield3@btinternet.com

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