2020 Time Capsule

In June 2020, we invited schools and groups to contribute their Covid-19 gardening stories to our time capsule, so that we can look back and reflect on some of the positives of this strange time.

14 September 2020

We've been living through a situation like no other during the Covid-19 pandemic, but we've been blown away by the incredible stories of communities coming together through the power of plants.

We have heard how you have adapted or started gardening and have been making the most of time outdoors this summer. We would like to share a few highlights below, and who knows, maybe they might inspire or uplift you, too.

Meadow High School
Secondary SEN provision in Middlesex 

The staff and students from key-worker families made the most of being in the school garden, growing and enjoying the fresh produce on Meadow High School’s plot. They even grew lettuce for the school tortoise! 

They thought creatively about how to reach the students who were at home and couldn’t use the school’s garden, by putting together home school learning packs. These packs included pots, soil, seeds and labels to bring some green-fingered magic home. One of the teachers, Miss Lennon, created a YouTube video to explain how to sow seeds and prick them out when the plants were big enough.

They also held a poster competition inviting young people to create a seed packet design. The winner received a book and some extra seeds.

Those that were in school throughout the lockdown had the opportunity to take part in weekly horticulture lessons. For some, it was the first time they had learnt the gardening skills that are needed to confidently grow at home, and the group also learnt about techniques such as pruning and learning the names of different flowers.

Excitingly, the school has decided to expand its growing area to allow more young people to participate in horticulture lessons when more pupils return to school.

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Before the lockdown, the Gallery team ran a monthly gardening club for local children and their families. In previous years, they grew vegetables for the Big Soup Share. A volunteer has kindly been growing some vegetables for the Gallery this year instead, so they are hoping to be able to use these to take part in this year’s Big Soup Share in October.

The staff were keen to keep supporting the local community to garden so they came up with online activities as, like many others, they were working from home so couldn’t grow in the Museum Secret Garden. They shared gardening ideas through their weekly ‘Potty Gardening Club’ blog, including instructions for how to make a pond, how to make recycled plant pots, and how to attract insects.

The staff also grew seeds for plants that pollinators, such as bees, are known to love, which they will transplant back to the museum garden when they are back on site.

Dulverton Junior School
West Somerset 

The gardening club in Dulverton came up with an ingenious way of raising money for those affected by the pandemic.

All the vegetable seeds that the children had sown before the school closed were taken home and potted up. Then Dulverton Gardening Club, which runs the school garden, held a plant sale twice a week throughout May.

They managed to raise just over £800, which they put towards buying food parcels for those in need.

Lantern Lane Primary & Nursery School

Despite not being back in the school garden until June, the children of key workers still managed to grow crops successfully, keeping the plot watered and tidy. They grew a variety of produce from red and purple radishes, purple and golden carrots, to potatoes, onions and beetroot. Unfortunately, the broad beans didn’t quite work out!

For those children at home, the school shared sunflowers and snapdragons for students to grow and care for.
The teachers sent monthly newsletters during lockdown covering topics such as planting advice, bird watching, and sharing pictures of crops that students had grown at home. Back on site, they are trying to build a recycled bottle greenhouse too.

The teachers have been encouraged by the number of students who weren’t originally in the gardening club but who now want to get involved, and have said that it’s been inspiring to see families working together to grow something in their own gardens. They believe it has helped children’s mental health as it has given the young people a sense of continuity, especially for those in year groups unable to return to school.

Whitehall Park Gardening Club

Within Whitehall Park, something incredible is happening in an old greenhouse area. It’s been transformed into a community garden, where the emphasis is on being together and supporting one another through tough times. This could not be more relevant now. The group specifically supports asylum seekers and people with mental health issues.

During the pandemic, the club was reduced in numbers, with a handful of people working independently to keep the garden going. They were conscious that more people found themselves isolated, so when social distancing was put in place, they were able to invite vulnerable people back into the garden.

Over the last few months, the group sowed seeds to attract bees and insects and planted trees. They also tried to encourage their members to grow on a smaller scale at home on windowsills, for example, so they didn’t miss out by not being able to come into the garden itself. They put together mini herb gardens and potted strawberry plants and distributed these to members.

Like many of us, the group has kept in touch digitally using WhatsApp to answer people’s gardening questions and share their experiences and successes. [Photo credit: Brandon Marples]

Barn Croft Primary School

When Louise Duke, who heads up the gardening club, found out she would need to shield at home, she didn’t know what would become of the garden during lockdown. She was relieved when some of the parents at the school pulled together and organised a timetable to maintain the garden.

Students and families on the rota came in to sow, plant and harvest the fruits of their labours, and the children also made scarecrows and bug hotels to encourage more wildlife in the garden.

Louise says, “The families have continued to come in over the school holidays, and now we even have families who aren’t linked to the school volunteering to help us with the garden.”

The community reach extends beyond the school gates as the food grown has been distributed between local families and donated to the local food bank to help others in need.

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