PICTURES: Toddlers visit Sheringham High School’s Patch gardening project

Nearly 100 north Norfolk toddlers had a chance to learn about the benefits of growing your own fruit and vegetables on a visit to Sheringham High School's 'Patch' horticultural project.

The youngsters, from six local playgroups and nurseries, picked vegetables, planted seeds and watered flowers.

They also took part in activities laid on by Holt SureStart Children's Centre staff, including potato and pine-cone printing, painting with twigs, bug-hunting and making picture frames from natural objects.

Since being set up last summer, in partnership with neighbouring school Woodfields and Sheringham-based charity Break, the Patch - a three-quarters-of-an-acre piece of previously overgrown land behind the main school building - has been transformed into a learning and growing area.

Produce, which is given to volunteers and visitors, ranges from cabbages, carrots and courgettes, to herbs, strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants.

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An on-site classroom with toilets and kitchen was opened last week, putting the finishing touch to the �192,000 project, which is used by high school and Woodfields students, and by outside groups including special-needs charity About With Friends.

Patch manager Sue Penlington organised last week's toddler visit with SureStart centre co-ordinator Becky Marshall and family support workers Claire Walker and Lucy Ayers. She hoped to further develop the project, eventually selling produce via a 'veg box' scheme and filling two donated hen houses with up to 40 chickens.

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'We will also have a computer and interactive whiteboard in the meeting room, and we really want to get more schools and community groups using the Patch,' she said.

Students and volunteers, including a monthly working party of British Trust for Conservation members, currently look after the scheme, but Ms Penlington would be pleased to hear from anyone willing to give up a few hours a week to help.

'We are desperate for more volunteers, who could be doing everything from harvesting and watering, to updating our Facebook page,' she said.

? To find out more about becoming a volunteer at the Patch, phone Sue Penlington on 01263 822363 or visit

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