ITV Region: West Country West / Year: 2013
Connor Downs Primary School
Increasingly we are finding that many children do not know basic facts about the food we eat, such as that vegetables came from the ground and how they are packaged and delivered to supermarkets prior to being sold. Due to the rise in convenience food, many children have never planted fruit or vegetables, had the pleasure of tending them as they grow or have cooked with home grown produce. Historically gardens were places of production and a haven for wildlife, yet today they are all too often a barren wasteland with little thought about how to encourage and care for wildlife. Some sustainability issues may seem too big to tackle, but at Connor Downs Primary School we feel that we have a responsibility to pass on a rich environmental legacy to our children. Working in partnership with school staff and local volunteers, our intention is to create a dynamic outdoor learning community, working in a holistic way, by integrating moral, physical and social learning into our everyday practice.
Planting, nurturing and harvesting food and keeping chickens and bees are complementary routes into understanding how our actions can make our world healthier. Our project will illustrate the connection between bees, chickens, plants, food production and cooking. We will use the language of food to inspire people to think about how they can do things differently and consider: what they grow in their gardens, how animals provide food, whether they choose fair trade produce and how they support local farmers. Our project will provide a diverse habitat to support nature. It will generate wide public interest as well as fostering a greater understanding about our local habitat and wildlife. Our outdoor environment will enhance and enrich all that happens inside our classrooms, and will provide a much needed practical resource.
A vibrant, sensory garden will ensure that our outdoors is a special place for children with additional learning needs, incorporating plants with various textures and fragrances, making uncared for corners beautiful and attracting our community to look and learn. Birds will have safe places to nest and we will have a pond to increase local wildlife diversity. Our children will plan and develop a kitchen garden including a poly tunnel and fruit cage to grow herbs and a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Produce will be used by the children and volunteers in school to invent healthy recipes and our school cookery clubs will then create these dishes. An outdoor classroom will ensure that learning outside is not weather dependant. Children will be involved in activities such as planting, cultivating, growing and nurturing and will contribute to food production through marketing and selling produce all year round.
Research supports our belief that learning outdoors enriches lives. Learning to love the outdoors brings health benefits throughout life. Exposure and access to green spaces has a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits. Outdoor recreation provides an opportunity to increase quality of life and heighten social interaction. Physical activity in the natural environment also reduces symptoms of stress and depression, lowers rates of smoking and substance misuse and increases the ability to function better. (Morris, 2003) Our children will learn to be thankful for the diverse world in which we live, to be kind and considerate to each other and to make a positive contribution to our school, local and global communities.
In order for these experiences to have impact and lasting effect children need to be immersed in the outdoors from the very youngest age throughout their childhood to develop a special relationship with all nature.
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