East Devon school children really know their onions
Tins of pineapple chunks and packets of chocolate biscuits will this year be a thing of the past at the harvest festival celebrations of two East Devon schools thanks to Clinton Devon Estates.
The youngsters will be proudly displaying a variety of vegetables that they have carefully cultivated with their own hands on two pieces of allotment land given to them by Clinton Devon.
Drakes Church of England School at East Budleigh was given the allotment at Collins Cross in April 2007.
Allotment Coordinator Marguerite Tait: "We have prepared and cooked some of our produce in school and have sold the rest to school families and at events like our May Day Fair. With the money raised this year we shall buy necessary tools and seeds for next year.
"Since January we have been working with Bicton Agricultural College as part of the Green Fingered Entrepreneurs' project which aims to encourage a stimulating and fun learning environment across the school curriculum. The children experience the joy of growing their own food, at the same time developing skills of enterprise and co-operation.
"Two of our children also recently went on behalf of the school to collect a Neighbourhood Award of Merit from the RHS and Britain in Bloom organisation for their work on the allotment."
The 40 square metre plot of land used by Otterton School was given by Clinton Devon Estates a year ago. In the spring, parents, children and local villagers spent a day digging, building fences and planting hedges to prepare the site. Each class was assigned part of the allotment and have produced everything from tomatoes, beans and courgettes to potatoes, strawberries and rhubarb.
Teacher Lucy Archer, who has overseen the project, said: "By the beginning of June we had a crop of broad beans large enough to sell to parents in the playground and we have continued to sell a wide variety of fruit and veg. The children have gained a great deal of pleasure from growing and eating the produce and in June the allotment was part of the Otterton Gardens Open Day. It may not have been as beautiful and tidy as most of the gardens taking part but we were proud to show off the children's hard work.
"We are having an environment week in October, which will be focused around the allotment. The allotment will also be the main project for our new eco team as we are applying for the Green Flag status from the eco schools awards."
Clare James, Assistant Land Agent from Clinton Devon Estates, said: "The Estate has for the last four years run an education initiative to assist local schools in learning about agriculture and countryside management. It is part of the Estates' strategy to encourage lifelong learning and interaction with local communities. We are very happy to provide both schools with this opportunity to use an allotment so that they could learn about food production out of the classroom. We are really pleased to hear that their harvests this year have been so abundant."