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Budding Ardboe Gardeners Celebrate a Local First with TV’s Monty Don

Saint Patrick’s Primary School, Mullinahoe have been awarded a Level 3 certificate from the Royal Horticulture Society Campaign for School Gardening. Twenty-four green-fingered pupils from Primary Six undertook the RHS gardening project at the County Tyrone school and their growing success has reaped praise from none other than celebrity TV gardener, Monty Don. The seasoned writer and TV presenter personally congratulated the delighted Ardboe pupils on their RHS award at the recent Hillsborough Garden Festival, praising them for nurturing their blossoming gardening skills.

Talent in Spades: Pictured with TV gardener, Monty Don at the recent Hillsborough Garden Festival are (left) Mrs Mary Doris, Extended Schools Programme Leader at Mullinahoe PS; (right) Primary Six Teacher, Miss Harvey and some of the talented pupils who have made gardening such a success at the school.

The RHS Campaign for School Gardening aims to encourage and support schools to develop and actively use a school garden, showing young children how to care for a sustainable environment as well as sowing the seeds of life-long learning. The garden at St Patrick’s Primary School was initiated in 2010 under the Extended Schools Programme with funding support from the SELB.
Principle, Mr Joe Canavan applauded his pupils and staff on their flourishing success, saying, “Our garden project has been enriching the curriculum for the past three years and we are delighted with its continuing success. The entire school is very proud to have achieved Level 3 of the RHS Benchmarking Scheme - and the seal of approval from the legendary Monty Don has boosted the children’s confidence even further!
“A firm commitment to gardening offers our pupils many valuable educational and life skills and brings a measurable positive contribution to the children’s wellbeing, learning and development. In fact, research published by the RHS shows that schools which integrate gardens into the curriculum are developing children who are much more responsive to the challenges of adult life.

“The benefits are often described as the ‘3 Rs’ - resilience, readiness-to-learn and responsibility which helps children lead much happier, healthier lives. Gardening is about creative learning and helping our pupils to acquire the essential skills they need to fulfill their potential and make a positive contribution to society as a whole. Not only are they having fun learning in the fresh air, but they are becoming active citizens and carers for the environment too. The school garden is a now a much-loved hub of learning at the school and I would like to thank the SELB for its continued support of this project.”
Mullinahoe’s RHS garden project is overseen by local parent, Mrs Mary Doris. Mary is delighted to be able to share her passion for gardening with her hard-working young pupils.
“Achieving the RHS Level 3 certificate is a fantastic milestone to celebrate and we have come a long way since the project started out as an overgrown patch at the back of the school three years ago. We follow benchmarks from the RHS to develop specific learning outcomes and to embed core curriculum skills in a fun way, including Maths, English and Science. The garden is a haven of great pride for the children and they love working together to discover about the seasons, where food comes from and how to grow food for a healthier diet. The vouchers and gardening resources we receive from the RHS on completion of each certificate stage are also a welcome bonus for the school.”

“Whilst the Primary Six pupils have been the main contributors, the whole school has enjoyed the chance to be involved. There was much excitement with the P1 class as they planted their ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ runner beans, and we’ve raised funds for the school with a potted plant sale and our latest ‘Strawberry Delights’ project will have little mouths watering in anticipation of cooking with berries from the garden!”
Mary, who is currently undertaking an FdSc in Horticulture, added, “I would encourage every school to embrace gardening as a source of active, hands on-learning. Spending time outdoors enjoying nature is so good for the pupils’ social, emotional and physical development too. Respecting and caring for the environment will inspire the next generation to pursue future careers in developing areas such as Horticulture, Environmental Science and Food Production …and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if St Patrick’s produces a famous ‘Monty Don’ in years to come!”

Source: GIY - Budding Ardboe Gardeners Celebrate a Local First with TV's Monty Don