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YOUNGSTERS from six Worcestershire and two Gloucestershire primary schools gathered at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern yesterday to learn how to capture ‘A Moment in Time’: the theme for next year’s School Gardens Challenge at RHS Malvern Spring Festival (May 9-12).

Pupils came from Cherry Orchard Primary School, Malvern Wells CofE Primary School, Wyche CofE Primary School, Stanley Road Primary School, Our Place Schools, Cradley CofE Primary School, St Briavels and Bredon School

Guided by the new School Gardens Challenge Ambassador, Skinny Jean Gardener, Lee Connelly, pupils picked up tips on construction, design and planting as well as digital documenting ahead of their submissions for the 2019 festival.

Head of Shows, Diana Walton, said: “The School Gardens Challenge is a hugely popular feature at RHS Malvern Spring Festival. We’re continuously blown away by the originality of the designs and it’s great to see the next generation of gardeners showcase their green fingered creativity. From the initial design, to growing the plants and finally building the gardens, it’s an immense achievement and a real joy to see the pupils blossom.”

The School Gardens Challenge theme for 2019 is ‘A Moment in Time’. Pupils are working on ensuring their gardens capture unique moments, such as momentous historical events or smaller events significant to communities and local areas.

Their goal is to present their gardens in such a way that they look like photos, to celebrate the 180th anniversary of the silver-halide process of capturing still images – a process that led to modern-day photography as we know it.

Yesterday, they tackled teamwork and problem solving in a series of workshops to help them grow big ideas for their own unique school garden displays.

Pupils were helped along by Lee Connelly, STEM Ambassador Linda Scott, and Phil Eves, from BAM Construction, as they shared their rich experience in education, design, landscaping and digital technology.

For the first year pupils will create video podcasts to record the projects as they go, and it’s an experience they’re relishing.

Cherry Orchard Primary School teacher Rebecca Davies said: “The School Gardens Challenge is an exciting way of the children working together on our school aims. These aims include collaboration, problem solving, financial awareness, taking risks and negotiating.”

Cradley CofE Primary School teacher, Liz George, said: “Building the garden generates enthusiasm across the whole school community and connects us to so many interesting people. It’s really creative but best of all it’s great fun.”

Malvern Wells CofE Primary School parent, Christopher Bayley, said: “The workshop with Lee Connelly was excellent. The children are much more at ease with vlogging, blogging and podding now.”

Farm Manager at Bredon School, Jenny Parkes, said: “We take part in the School Garden Challenge because it enables our children to develop their social skills as they communicate with show visitors.

“During the design and build of the garden they develop team work skills as well as using skills learnt in the classroom. The outdoor learning really allows them to build confidence in their own abilities.”

This year 14 schools are designing gardens, with 11 returning schools, two new schools and a new home educated group.

The award winning School Gardens Challenge seeks to immerse young people in the vibrant world of horticulture. Horticulture naturally supports many subjects of the national curriculum: scientific, creative and physical. The project exposes children to the practical application of these in a hands-on and informative way.

Building of the school gardens begins in April and takes approximately three weeks to complete. A panel of RHS experts will judge the gardens on Wednesday 8 May, the day before RHS Malvern Spring Festival opens to the public. An estimated 100,000 visitors are expected to descend on the Three Counties Showground over the four-day show.

For more information on how to get involved and to reserve a growing space for your school email Mark Harwood-Browne.

RHS Malvern Spring Festival takes place from Thursday 9 May until Sunday 12 May 2019. Tickets are now on sale, book now.


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