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Students transforming a dumping ground into a reading garden Make-over marvels!

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It was once a neighbourhood dumping ground, but thanks to students and staff and a helping hand from local businesses a flourishing garden is taking root at Prospect Primary.

Children beamed with excitement this week as they received their first shipment of vegetables, herbs and plants for their budding garden.

In the coming months they will be planting patches of tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, beets and sweet peppers. They will also get to grow herbs like basil and thyme; and flowers such as marigolds.

Called the ‘Reading Garden’, it will soon be a tranquil space where schoolchildren can come to read their favourite books and enjoy the great outdoors.

It also serves as an outdoor classroom where children can learn about a variety of subjects, said project co-ordinator Philip Maybury.

“Things that were once in a text book we are going to make it real to the students in terms of practical exercises. For instance they may learn math by taking measurements in the garden.”

He continued: “What they are going to get out of it first of all is a better sense of sustainability, where food comes from, why it’s important to conserve water and protect endemic species and coexist with neighbours in the community.”

Mr Maybury said the area being developed was previously out of bounds to Prospect Primary children for safety reasons.

“This area was a dump. The neighbourhood thought they could throw their items, everything from refrigerators, down there but this is school property.”

Earlier this year construction boss Kevin Walls Bean donated time and supplies to help the Devonshire school with refurbishment projects. Under the ‘Adopt a School’ programme, ushered in by Education Minister Jennifer Smith, Mr Bean spent about a month building a concrete wall border for the new patch.

Once painted students will be able to watch movies on the walls and put up drawings to liven up the space.

Principal Shangri-La Durham said the reading garden would be dedicated to the memory of late staff member Carol Smith, who loved books.

Situated right next to the library, the school eventually plans to open up the area so young people can venture straight into the garden after collecting their books.

The initiative received rave reviews from Primary Six students who were all excited about the new venture.

Ten-year-old Carol-Ann Campbell said: “I hope that it will be a school and community garden for us to socialise and read in. I feel that whoever made it made a good decision. I just can’t wait.”

Classmate Jyotsna Sureshkumar said: “I think it is very exciting and I can’t wait until this reading garden is done. I think it’s a great idea because you get to read in the great outdoors instead of stuffed in an air-conditioned room.”

She said she was also excited about the gardening “because I get to plant all these magnificent plants in it. I want to learn the names of different kinds of plants.

“I hope we can use it for food to make it into a nice soup some day,” the ten-year-old added.

With the help of local businesses, the Animal and Garden House and Harrington Hills Farm, young people will also be given guidance on their new crops.

In addition to donating supplies, co-owners Mina Dennis and Jennifer McCarron, of Animal and Garden House, are planning to host monthly teaching sessions to educate the community on the importance of producing their own food.

Dr Durham said each primary school class would be responsible for a different crop. Students will also get to take home the fruits of their labour.

She admittedly is excited to introduce the concept of gardening to people in the nearby community starting with parents at the monthly PTA meeting on October 18.

“With the economic downturn this might be an excellent way to get Bermuda to understand how important it is to grow our own food rather than waiting to import food.”

She said some foods were losing their nutritious value, due to the long wait to get items from the field to the table. “Maybe this [gardening] will catch on with a lot of other people and they can get excited too.”

Prospect Primary recently received the highest honours in the Healthy Schools Awards thriving in a total of 11 categories. They have also adopted nearby Sandys Wharf on North Shore and are responsible for keeping the area clean.

Getting ready: Students carefully handle herbs and plants donated for their new reading garden. The outdoor space, in honour of a late staff member, Carol Smith, will be a tranquil place where children can read, learn and garden with limited interruptions.
Green fingers: Prospect Primary has entered a partnership with Animal and Garden House to develop its school?s reading garden. It will be an outdoor space where children can go to read, learn and garden with limited interruptions. Pictured with students are Principal Shangri-La Durham, health and safety officer Philip Maybury and co-owners of the Animal and Garden House Mina Dennis and Jennifer McCarron.
Easy does it: Students carefully handle herbs and plants donated for their new reading garden. The outdoor space, in honour of a late staff member, Carol Smith, will be a tranquil place where children can read, learn and garden with limited interruptions.
Easy does it: Students carefully handle herbs and plants donated for their new reading garden. The outdoor space, in honour of a late staff member, Carol Smith, will be a tranquil place where children can read, learn and garden with limited interruptions.

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Published September 30, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated September 30, 2011 at 9:45 am)

Students transforming a dumping ground into a reading garden Make-over marvels!

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