Nicola explained, “Initially I signed up to the Gardening Club as I wanted to improve my own CPD and learn more about holistic and therapeutic approaches to gardening.”
Nicola works for the White Rose Federation, a group of 3 primary schools in North Yorkshire. As well as being a teaching assistant, Nicola’s role also encompasses PE, gardening and healthy schools. Over the past year, the lockdown periods have given Nicola and her colleagues time to focus on what they wanted to see and achieve with the schools’ outdoor areas. Nicola found the information and guidance offered in the Gardening Club emails really useful, providing her with ideas on new projects to try as well as how to approach them.
“I like how projects are clearly explained, often with step-by-step guides and helpful illustrations. This is really useful for beginner gardeners and people with learning challenges. I’ve also enjoyed reading other people’s stories on how gardening and being outdoors have helped them achieve something personal. “
Looking at what we’ve achieved or doing some weeding or pruning and working with the earth gives me a real sense of belonging and happiness.Nicola, Gardening Club member
With the help of another member of staff who shared her vision, Nicola, her colleague and their team of keyworker children set to work on a community garden site at one of the primary schools, weeding, planting and eventually harvesting a small crop in their first year.
Nicola commented, “I felt as though I was giving something back and to see the children learn where food was coming from and participating in its creation gave me a real sense of pride and achievement.
At any time of the year, there’s always work to be done in the garden and we’re always learning from our mistakes too such as the cabbage butterfly mishap we had with the sprouts! Working in the garden has given us all something to focus on during the uncertain times we have been facing.”
Seeing the smiles on the children's faces when they’re working in the garden, maybe digging up a carrot or seeing their sunflower grow is priceless.
Nicola especially enjoyed Thrive’s recent Spring Forward calendar. As a result of this, the school decided to create a wildlife garden. “For the wildlife garden, we looked at the area we had in mind for this and mapped out what we thought might work. As there was a hedge which was attracting hedge sparrows, robins and blue tits, we created a bird feeding station as well as adding a log pile and then a pallet bug hotel. The children also wanted a hedgehog house and so we added that too. In the future we also want to include some bird boxes and a small bucket or barrel pond.”
Nicola concluded, “Being part of Gardening Club has helped to improved my wellbeing. Looking at what we’ve achieved or doing some weeding or pruning and working with the earth gives me a real sense of belonging and happiness.
Seeing the smiles on the children's faces when they’re working in the garden, maybe digging up a carrot or seeing their sunflower grow is priceless. Having people from the community stop by for a socially distanced chat over the fence whilst they’re out on their daily walk has also helped with the social isolation we’ve all faced during the lockdowns.”