An organic school garden for every school – Teachers’ conference at The Organic Centre
by Hans Wieland
SEED (School Earth Education) and The Organic Centre are pleased to announce the 4th National Teachers Conference on School Gardens” and acknowledge the support by Darina Allen, Trevor Sargent and Neven Maguire and Michael Kelly.
The aim of the conference is to inform teachers about the benefits of school gardens and enable them to link all curriculum strands to the living classroom. School gardens are a huge educational resource for schools and are proving to be an important part of teaching an integrated range of subjects in an enjoyable and fulfilling way.
“We strongly believe that an organic school garden is part of the curriculum and becomes ever more important to develop physical and mental health amongst children.” says Hans Wieland from The Organic Centre, who organises the conference.
“Organic school gardens are in essence outdoor classrooms” Wieland continues, “They demonstrate important examples of native habitats and biodiversity, they teach children how to grow food without using chemicals; they provide hands-on practical sessions to promote sensory, experiential and fun learning. They also fully support the Green Flag Programme.”
“We are delighted to have our own Paddy Madden as our key note speaker. Paddy’s book ‘Go wild at school’ was first published in 1996 and has paved the way for establishing school gardens ever since.” says Hans Wieland.
Chef and writer Darina Allen, a patron of The Organic Centre says:
“I believe that gardens are good things and I passionately believe that exposing children to gardening and other outdoor activities are good things.
When we sow a seed into the soil, wait for it to germinate and grow it into something delicious to eat, it teaches us many things, not least about the reality of nature and how variable Irish weather and pests can affect our precious crop. We learn to be patient as we wait for our crop to be ready to harvest. This gives us a greater respect and appreciation of food and those who produce it. Having discovered how long it takes to grow, we will never complain about the price of vegetables again. Then there’s the excitement of the harvesting and the enjoyment of the result of our labours. Then we truly understand the difference freshness makes and how important it is to be grateful and appreciate the grower and to hug the cook!
Organic school gardens foster fundamental life skills while nurturing good health and a lifelong love of home-grown food.
I wish the teachers conference at The Organic Centre every success.”
Former minister for horticulture and patron Trevor Sargent says:
“The earth has been our teacher, as it has been for every creature, since time began. As a former primary school teacher, I know that pupils were never more engaged with learning than when they were sowing, tending plants and exploring the great outdoors. However, behind the noble cause of learning, earth education and growing food is also empowering our children to become more self-reliant in the face of climate change and other future challenges to food security. Undoubtedly, SEED is worthy of every possible support from all who are genuine about giving our children a happy childhood and a secure future”.
Chef and patron Neven Maguire says:
“For me as a chef and a father of 2 young children it gives me great joy and satisfaction that they can see and know where their food comes from.
Food is so much of an education and if we can teach our future young foodies to grow, cook and enjoy the whole food experience as a family the world would be a much happier and healthier place.
We need to get children and families reconnecting with food, understanding the different seasons and hard work that farmers and gardeners do every day to provide food for our family table.”
Michael Kelly founder of GIY, who do tremendous work with schools says:
As part of the launch of our Sow & Grow schools campaign this year we (GIY and our partners in innocent) commissioned a household survey by Behaviour & Attitudes Ireland. The results show food-growing moving in to the mainstream. We were thrilled to hear that 99% of those surveyed believe it is valuable for kids to learn how to grow their own food at school and also that 47% of those surveyed have grown some food at home in the previous 12 months. Though the scale of Sow & Grow is immense this year, these survey results show that parents want more food-growing to happen at school. One of the most important steps our Government could take to get children healthy is to put food on the curriculum – this research shows that parents want this to happen and understand how beneficial it would be.
Research shows us that when children grow some of their own food they develop what we call “Food Empathy”: a deeper connection with food, which is proven to lead to a healthier life. Food empathetic children have better diets, eat more fruit and vegetables and have a better understanding of food and nutrition. At a time when Ireland still has among the highest rates of childhood obesity in the EU, establishing a deeper connection with food is more important than ever.
Encouraging and supporting schools to put in schools gardens is important work and we’re delighted to support the Organic Centre’s schools conference.”
Topics for this year’s conference are: Biodiversity for the Green Flag, growing to a harvest, the best seed sowing techniques, trouble shooting your composting, an interactive walk around the grounds of The Organic Centre covering polytunnel growing, herbs from A-Z, the benefits and problems of raised beds, planting fruit trees, willow features and weed control.
Tickets from www.theorganiccentre.ie One teacher €40, and a multiple ticket of €100 for 3 teachers from the same school