Tidy Towns School Garden Award 2021
We were delighted to be nominated for and to win a 2021 Tidy Town School Garden Award. Wicklow County Council presented us with a certificate and €400 in prize money which we will invest into our beautiful garden.
We are blessed with a stunning natural environment and school grounds which offers students and staff so many benefits, both educational and from a wellbeing perspective. Let us take this opportunity to tell you about our school gardens and to share some photographs with you.
The school has been lucky to receive help and support in developing and maintaining our gardens from a number of sources over the years. Our bio-diversity garden to the front of the school was planted by members of our community, staff and a group of volunteers from Servier in Arklow. This garden is a haven for bees, insects and birds which presents a wonderful opportunity for teaching the children about nature. Bird boxes dotted around the front garden have been home to many mama birds and their fledglings over the years. Butterflies are also welcomed into the garden through carefully planned planting.
Organic Vegetable Garden & Fruit Orchard
The large fenced garden to the rear of the school hosts our orchard, vegetable allotments and polytunnel. The children take great pride in growing their own lettuce, carrots, strawberries, courgettes, rhubarb and a particular favourite are the pumpkins grown ahead of the Halloween midterm break. Students are encouraged to taste and bring home their produce. The teachers guide students through the process of germinating seeds in the polytunnel to planting out and caring for their fruit and vegetables until harvest time. This process teaches children to understand the principles of farm to fork and to value healthy foods. The children also harvest seeds, for example, from lupins and sunflowers.
Our aim is to garden in a sustainable way by composting garden waste, nourishing plants with collected rain water and the use of organic growing methods (no chemicals). We aim to protect the natural habitat that the school garden is for hedgehogs, frogs, rabbits and more, not to mention the children themselves!
A Garden for Playing
The majority of our green space is dedicated for play! As an Active School, one of our key objectives is to promote physical activity for health. Our large green playing field with goals offers children the chance to play freely in the mornings before school begins, at break times and during P.E. class. We also have a wonderful 250m walking track around the garden’s perimeter which is used for walking and running daily. Beside our vegetable garden, we have an enviable playground which is floored with bark mulch and equipped with a play tower, swings, slides and climbing frames. Our recently resurfaced play yard which is soon to be stencilled with colourful markings is an ideal surface for skipping, basketball, hop scotch and more.
We are grateful to all those who have contributed to the development and maintenance of our gardens over the years which are truly appreciated by the students and staff every day. Thank you to Tidy Towns and Wicklow County Council for this award which recognises the ongoing effort that goes into a garden of this scale and diversity. Enjoy some photos of our school gardens and students gardening below.