Backs to the Land! Going back in school today to when wartime school children grew their own school dinners …

Backs to the Land! School children were routinely involved in growing their own school dinners in the 1940s. (They have only themselves to blame for the endless boiled cabbage then).

As well as harvest camps and salvage drives, the schoolyard or bombsite garden  was all part of ‘lend a hand on the land’ and probably a welcome break from lessons. Raising pigs and chickens weren’t unknown as a school project either. Meat to go with the two veg!

One of my proudest achievements since leaving school many years ago ... getting something to grow. Ormskirk Late Cabbages, October 2009, first autumn in plot no. 1, World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo

If you were such a wartime gardening child, we’d love to hear from you at The World War Zoo project based here at Newquay Zoo.

Now 70 years later, children are being encouraged to do the same again. I’ve seen some great schools gardens and met many impressive and proud school gardeners recently including the team up at Okehampton Community College in Devon and St. Mawgan-in-Pydar Community Primary School in Cornwall.

If you’re enjoying your school garden now, let us know. We’ll be posting more wartime sourced garden tips from our wartime archive collection soon. January is a pretty quiet month. Polish your tools, plan your garden, buy your seeds …

A very useful website of resources to inspire teachers, parents and others:

 Growing Schools http://www.growingschools.org.uk ,   a DCSF government intitiative since 2001 “aiming to give all children the opportunity to connect with the living environment”,

worth downloading their vegetables in hanging baskets pdf resources and many other fabulous small scale and easy ideas

 “whether it is an inner city window box or a vast country estate, a school veg plot or a natural woodland. Interacting with living plants and animals provides a very rich, hands-on learning experience in which both formal and informal education can flourish” .

Newquay Zoo’s World War Zoo gardens team applauds this idea as we’re also part of the same Learning  Outside the Classroom manifesto http://www.lotc.org.uk, which Newquay Zoo and many of our zoo and botanic garden collegues are signed up to and quality badged.  We all share its conviction that “every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstance”. A school garden or allotment is a good place to start.

 Growing Schools focuses particularly on three areas that are accessible to all, at some level, as a context for learning:

  • Food and farming, including the managed countryside
  • Gardens, gardening and green spaces
  • Wildlife and the natural environment

Growing Schools also works with the Sustainable Schools agenda. Growing your own food, saving those food miles, using recycled planters, composting that waste. It’s all part of a sustainable garden.  It provides a “practical approach to its core theme of care – for oneself, for each other and for the environment.”

Our colleagues at Botanic Gardens Education Network www.bgen.org.uk   also have some ideas on how to support growing in schools. Our wartime garden is listed there in their informal learning section.

Only three to four weeks left until the launch of the fabulous Ministry of Food exhibition opening Febraury 2010 at the Imperial War Museum (see previous blog entries) www.iwm.org.uk/food and their previous fabulous dig for victory blogspot  http://dig-for-victory.blogspot.com/ 

Only three to four months until our second World War Zoo wartime garden weekend 1-3 May 2010 at Newquay Zoo, one of the many garden events at  www.newquayzoo.org.uk    (see previous blog entries)

Off to go and plant more seeds.

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