The Wingate Community Nursery School allotment area before the renovation.
The new area is now available for young children in Wingate to take advantage of and enjoy.
Becky Wood, headteacher at the nursery, said “We’ve always been very outdoorsy, nature people here at Wingate Nursery.
“We’ve always grown vegetables and fruit, kept a couple of hens, done Forest School for years, cooked over fires etc. but we craved a garden that could be dedicated to nature and growing our own food on a much larger scale. An allotment was exactly what we needed.”
She added: “Imagine our excitement when we had a phone call from the parish council that an allotment had become available – just around the corner from school. We were thrilled!”
But there was a lot of work to be done to make it even accessible to children.
Not only was it overgrown, there was a large decrepit shed and an accumulation of rubbish – piles of wood and bricks, scraps of metal and an old loo.
A small group of dedicated parents, mainly dads, but also a lovely mum who supplied bacon and sausage sandwiches through the winter, with governors, local neighbours and the headteacher, Becky, all working tirelessly, mainly at weekends to transform the space.
Paddy Beels, early years consultant, also integral to the project, said: “It was a fantastic parental effort and quite a physical undertaking, which involved demolishing the old shed and concrete base, digging out weeds, sorting and disposing of rubbish, building a log cabin, creating raised beds, putting up a greenhouse and planting trees.”
Since completion, the allotment has been used by the staff and children to plant seeds and grow a whole host of vegetables, which they are now starting to harvest and cook their home-grown food.
Becky said she is “over the moon” with the outcome of the allotment, and shares a sense of pride – particularly with the core group of parents who have helped to make it possible.
“One of the best things about the project has been the opportunity to build on the strong relationships we have with families and the community, to get to know each other even better,” she said.
“The garden provides us with a special place to work with children in nature and the lovely thing is, we’re at the very heart of the community – visible to all passers by.
“The villagers and residents are beginning to understand more about our work with children, as they see us working throughout the seasons and all the elements. It really is amazing.”
Becky is planning a family barbecue at the end of term for all the families involved to say thank you for all their hard work and commitment to the project.
This adds another string to the Wingate bow that helps reinforce their recently acclaimed eighth successive outstanding Ofsted judgement.
Becky added: “This is what it’s all been about and I know it will grow from strength to strength and become an established, beautiful nature garden over time, for hundreds of children who walk through our door and garden gate.”