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Rhubarb to turkeys - back to school will see pupils tending allotments

PUBLISHED: 14:33 30 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:59 30 August 2020

Matt Willer of educational charity The Papillon Project which will be helping with 10 school allotments when pupils return in September.  Picture: Brittany Woodman

Matt Willer of educational charity The Papillon Project which will be helping with 10 school allotments when pupils return in September. Picture: Brittany Woodman

Archant

School fields are being turned into thriving allotments to be tended by pupils, with produce used in lessons and handed out in the local community.

Ten secondary schools in Norfolk have signed up to work with educational charity Papillon Project, which looks to build on the allotment scheme which was run for five years at Reepham High School.

The latest to bear fruit is at City Academy Norwich, where work began just before lockdown to transform an area of the school grounds.

Key worker children helping watering plants at the newly created City Academy Norwich allotment during lockdown. Picture: CANKey worker children helping watering plants at the newly created City Academy Norwich allotment during lockdown. Picture: CAN

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With schools encouraged to use outdoor learning as part of guidelines for safe reopening, pupils returning on September 7 will get involved in looking after the allotment - called ‘Canalot’, which has been transformed over the summer.

Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, key worker students, teachers and Papillon Project volunteers constructed the allotments using recycled materials, including old school desks, light shades, old tyres and toilets as herb and flower beds.

City Academy Norwich allotment Canalot has been made from recycled materials and aims to encourage pupils self-esteem, team building and practical problem solving. Pictures: CANCity Academy Norwich allotment Canalot has been made from recycled materials and aims to encourage pupils self-esteem, team building and practical problem solving. Pictures: CAN

They have already been able to enjoy the fruits - and vegetables - of their labour. Potatoes, herbs and broccoli have been used to create tasty fresh dishes in their food tech classes.

Headteacher Paul Collin said: “We have seen a huge benefit of working with our young people in this outside learning environment.

Produce from the City Academy Norwich allotment has already been used in lessons and donated to community projects. Picture: CANProduce from the City Academy Norwich allotment has already been used in lessons and donated to community projects. Picture: CAN

“During the lockdown period this open space, which has transformed from a plot of grass into a fully sustained allotment complete with chickens and turkeys.

“It has been overwhelming to see the local support from farmers, community and businesses in offering used or unwanted items to help us grow our project.”

The growing has continued through the summer break with bumper crops of courgettes, herbs, rhubarb, beetroot, tomatoes and squash given to West Norwich Helping Hands, a local community service group for their food parcel delivery to help those in need.

The allotment now also has seven chickens and three turkeys, which proved popular with year six students during their induction week.

The City Academy Norwich allotment is one of 10 planned at Norfolk schools. Picture: CANThe City Academy Norwich allotment is one of 10 planned at Norfolk schools. Picture: CAN

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The Papillon Project has also helped create allotments at Dereham Neatherd High School, Litcham School, Sprowston Community Academy, Thorpe St Andrew School and Hethersett Academy.

It is set to begin work on three new allotments at Diss High School, Long Stratton High and Old Buckenham High from September.

City Academy Norwich allotment site before and during construction. Scarecrow in school uniform and some of the seven chickens and three turkeys that pupils will look after. Pictures: CANCity Academy Norwich allotment site before and during construction. Scarecrow in school uniform and some of the seven chickens and three turkeys that pupils will look after. Pictures: CAN

Matt Willer, who began the project when he was a teacher at Reepham High, said: “I want to inspire children and young people to learn to grow their own food for their school and their community.”

The City Academy Norwich planting runner beans at the newly created allotment during lockdown. Picture: CANThe City Academy Norwich planting runner beans at the newly created allotment during lockdown. Picture: CAN


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