Enstone Primary School increase the biodiversity of the school garden
13 February 2012
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A vegetable patch had been started in the school garden, but the rest of the area needed developing, particularly regenerating the school pond and increasing the biodiversity of the whole garden. Our aim was to encourage more beneficial wildlife into the garden.
Delivering the project and linking it to the curriculum
The project has been led by the gardening club, in conjunction with the Eco Warriors, supported by a teacher and a small group of interested parents.
The gardening club have improved the biodiversity of the vegetable raised beds by cultivating plants, such as lavender, sage and thyme, to attract insects. Companion planting with marigolds and nasturtiums helps to deter whitefly from tomatoes and aphids from beans. They also attract beneficial insects e.g. ladybirds, which eat the aphids. A buddleia close to the vegetable beds attracts butterflies.
The gardening club maintain two compost bins, using the compost to add organic matter to the vegetable beds, which improves its structure and productivity. The compost bins attract beneficial woodlice, beetles and worms.
After the grounds maintenance company reduced the crown of one of the trees, they cut the branches into one metre lengths to create wood piles as safe habitats for insects. The gardening club also erected insect houses and a bird box and there are stones around the margins of the garden to provide another habitat. During the winter the bird table was kept stocked with seeds and fat balls.
The school pond is home to many frogs and newts. It is surrounded by a wild area rich in nettles, thistles and buddleia, which all encourage beneficial insects and in winter the wild area provides vital shelter. From April to October, small groups of children, led by a teaching assistant, have monitored the wildlife in the pond, keeping a log of their observations. This data will be used in future to help to compare the biodiversity of the area from year to year.
The biodiversity of the school garden and pond is integrated into the science curriculum studying habitats.
The garden and pond require routine maintenance which is beyond the children’s ability. An appeal to parents to form a working party one Saturday morning resulted in a small group of interested parents tidying the garden in the spring.
Getting the pupils involved
Children are naturally curious and interested in mini-beast hunts. They have been taught how to look carefully, not disturb the creatures and are keen to improve the garden by wildlife attracting planting.
Benefits of being an Eco-School
The children derive pleasure from observing the wildlife in the pond and different habitats in the garden. By attracting ladybirds, in particular, to the vegetable beds the children have successfully grown many salads and vegetables which are used by the school cook.
The costs of building the raised vegetable beds were met by various donations. Although this was not part of the biodiversity project it was a necessary precursor to it. The biodiversity project has had very limited costs, mainly for seeds, which have been met by the gardening club’s annual plant stall at the school fete.
The insect houses and bird boxes have been obtained through Tescos school vouchers scheme.
Funding for the raised beds was from The Edina Trust, The Friends of Enstone School and Enstone Airfield Open Day.
A few interested parents have helped with annual maintenance of the garden. A parent helps to lead the gardening club and a teaching assistant leads the children surveying the pond.
Measuring the impact
Year by year the records of wildlife in the pond will enable us to measure how the biodiversity of the garden improves.
Having a group of interested parents to help relieves the pressure on the teaching staff. They might also take responsibility for the garden during school holidays. The garden doesn’t stop needing attention because it’s the end of term.
The project continues. The next step is to create a willow dome, plant a wheel of insect attracting plants, build a bug hotel and bird feeding station. This next stage is being supported by the expertise of The Warriner School Farm, Bloxham.
Local Authority support
Not specifically for this project.