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This Cardiff school is growing its own fruit and vegetables

Ciaran Ellis

Pupils at a Cardiff school will soon be tucking into heathy dinners made with fresh fruit and vegetables they have grown themselves in their new school garden.

The Eco & Memorial Garden at Mary Immaculate High School in Cardiff has been designed by pupils and built by pupils and staff over the last eight months.

It is a key part of the school’s new alternative enrichment curriculum, which is designed to give pupils the chance to experience things not covered by the regular school curriculum.

The garden will have a number of uses. It will be used as an extra-curricular activity where a gardening club will meet weekly, while the memorial part of the garden will offer a special place for staff and pupils to remember lost loved ones in a quiet, safe space.

Mary Immaculate headteacher Huw Powell said: “We wanted to create a unique opportunity to give our pupils wider curriculum experience that would enrich their learning and give them the chance to obtain new knowledge and skills in a hands-on way.”

“As a school we are very excited to see pupils use our garden and will continue to build partnerships with our local community to continue our exiting new enrichment curriculum.”

Produce grown in the Eco & Memorial Garden, which will include a wide variety of herbs, fruits and vegetables such as rosemary, thyme, chives, tomatoes, and chili peppers, will be picked by pupils and used in school dinners.

Ryan Crimmins, who is responsible for running the garden in the curriculum said: “We wanted to make sure that we were able to grow our own fruit and vegetables in a sustainable way that could be used by our canteen.”

The school’s head chef Mel  said: “We are really looking forward to getting the produce so we can add it to our meals. It is really useful for pupils to see that what they grow goes into their meals every day.”

The construction of the Eco & Memorial Garden has been a real community effort, with pupils, staff and local people coming together.

Michelle Jeffery, who played a lead in designing, coordinating, and setting up the garden, asked pupils to come up with their own designs.

More than 60 pupils took part, and it was decided that a combination of the best designs would be used.

As pupil Ciaran Ellis said: “By picking the best bits from all our designs it meant we could make sure we could get everything we wanted from our own garden.”

Mark Lambert,Premises Manager at Mary Immaculate, was tasked with landscaping the area, building the pathway and raised beds.

He said: “The pupils’ design was really clever; it was designed to be wheelchair friendly and had an in-built watering system which will feed and water the plants throughout the year.”

Local companies including Pugh’s Garden Centre in Wenvoe, B&Q Culverhouse cross, Petersens PR and Apollo Teaching agency have all contributed to the creation of the garden by either providing herbs and plants or giving a donation.

Rob Petersen of Petersens PR said: “We are delighted to support this wonderful initiative by Mary Immaculate as part of its new alternative enrichment curriculum. To provide pupils, staff and the local community with a facility to enjoy, learn from and even eat produce from is to be supported and applauded.’’