Why every school needs a greenhouse
British gardens are getting smaller, and some children have no outdoor space at all. So it’s little wonder that traditional skills like growing your own vegetables or sowing flower seeds aren’t being transferred to the next generation. Many schools are starting a gardening club, and finding that a greenhouse on the school grounds offers huge educational advantages.
Understanding where food comes from, making healthy nutritional choices and learning about seasonality are so much more exciting when you can get your hands dirty!
What are the main benefits of a school greenhouse?
School gardening clubs and growing projects are incredibly valuable, and especially for children without gardens. And for those who don’t excel in an academic setting, learning transferable skills in a different environment can be life-changing. Greenhouses offer children a calm and tranquil space to reflect, a practical place to burn off energy, and somewhere to work with others and watch things grow. Here are just some of the benefits:
- A greenhouse is an outside classroom – it can be used to support the national curriculum and inspire curiosity.
- Gardening improves fitness – exercise in the fresh air and sunlight improves physical and mental health.
- Gardening encourages healthy eating – children are more interested in trying fruit and veg they’ve grown themselves.
- Connection with nature – greenhouses teach children about seasonality, biodiversity and caring for the environment.
- Improved confidence – a warm greenhouse helps plants succeed, providing children with a unique sense of achievement.
The Woodchurch Primary School greenhouse
To help encourage children from Woodchurch Primary School (Wirral) back to school, Waltons recently sponsored their gardening club. Working with Mark McManus, leader of the club, we’ve been fascinated to hear how their new greenhouse has made a difference. We asked Mark a few questions about his project, and here’s what he said…What difference does your gardening club make to the children’s lives, both in and out of school?
“I think it has made a great difference in how the children see the world around them, how they approach the environment they live in, and the animals they share it with (even the slimy and creepy crawly kind). I've noticed a real custodianship of the school grounds that has started to grow, since we started the club.”What are the most important things children at Woodchurch Primary School get from gardening?
“In short: teamwork, patience, resolve, compassion and wonder. Resolve being that never-give-up attitude, if plants fail. Compassion, in learning to care for all living things and the environment. And wonder being the magic that is growing a massive plant from a tiny seed (like the hollyhocks we planted during the first lockdown, that only bloomed this summer).”How did you get involved and why do you think it’s so important?
“I became involved during the first lockdown. The excitement the children showed in the natural world reminded me of when I was little, and I would garden with my grandparents, and my parents. To this day, my nan can give you the latin name of a plant, its origin, and all the things it likes, does not like, including where and when to plant. I don't think I'll get to that level, but I'd like to help students learn how to identify trees and flowers as easily as they can a brand of car.”What do you hope to be able to do differently now you have a greenhouse?
“I'm hoping to start growing things all year round. I've also got some raised beds that I need to build and they will act in tandem with the greenhouse.”What non-horticultural benefits has the greenhouse delivered?
“I'm hoping the greenhouse and the surrounding area can become another place where staff and students can sit and spend their lunchtime enjoying a quieter spot on the school grounds.”
The greenhouse at Woodchurch Primary School has clearly given pupils a new perspective on more than just horticulture. They’re learning to become more responsible, more engaged and more environmentally aware - and it definitely beats a soggy piece of kitchen roll with some cress seeds on it! If you want to know the best fruit and veg to grow in a school greenhouse, check out our helpful guide.
We’d love to hear your stories about gardening with children. Tag us using #MyWaltons to share your successes! If you’re interested in a greenhouse for your school gardening club, drop us a line via firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss a discount.