Hitchin Youth Allotment in last four for national school gardening award

PUBLISHED: 08:25 11 June 2018

The Hitchin Youth Allotment team. Picture: Paul Dee

The Hitchin Youth Allotment team. Picture: Paul Dee

Archant

Green-fingered youngsters from Hitchin are in the running for a top national award.

The Hitchin Youth Allotment, a joint initiative between the town’s Priory School and Hitchin Allotment Association, is one of four finalists in the Royal Horticultural Society’s school gardeners of the year competition.

The youth allotment is run on a voluntary basis, with the children getting their hands dirty growing vegetables and learning a whole host of gardening skills.

As well as the Priory School gardening groups, the project involves two Guide groups, three Brownie groups and one each from the Rainbows and Cubs.

Project leader Paul Dee said: “We’ve been running for less than two years, so you can imagine how pleased we are.

“We now have more than 150 kids involved – that is the real success.

“I want to thank all those who have helped and been supportive, especially the Priory School teachers and the youth group leaders. It has been an amazing effort.”

The RHS competition winners will be announced in July.

The youngsters at the Hitchin allotment work together in small groups, helping each other, and have a true allotment experience – sowing seeds, taking cuttings, planting out, harvesting, cooking and eating the produce.

The main aim of the initiative is for it to be fun and engage the young people involved, so they develop a real interest in gardening and growing food.

Priory School learning mentor Helena Breeze said: “The children enjoy it, in many cases growing their confidence and having knock-on benefits to their school experience.”

The cooking element is co-run by Priory School food tech teacher Deleasa Adelusi, who said: “It’s great to see the kids building their understanding of where food comes from and how to grow and use it.”

Links to the wider community include open days, growing pumpkins for the Pirton Pumpkin Show and donating to the Luton Red Cross foodbank.

The project is supported by businesses including Vanstone and Wyevale garden centres, North Herts District Council and Hertfordshire County Council.

As well as the sessions with the children, there is a small group of volunteers who help by doing a bit of work on the plots a few times a year, normally on a Saturday morning.

To find out more, email paulndee22@hotmail.co.uk.

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