Reepham pupils reap rewards of their allotment
Little more than a year ago it was a patch of overgrown land at the bottom of the playing fields at Reepham High School and College that had never grown anything more productive than grass and weeds.
But what a difference a year makes.
Railway sleepers form a raised bed where potatoes have burst through the tended soil, onions reach for the skies from their converted pallet beds while strawberries and raspberries seek out the sun from the protection of their fruit cage.
Pupils give up their lunch breaks to water the tomato plants in the polytunnel while a couple of strong-armed boys wheel barrow loads of manure onto the plot.
For history teacher Matt Willer the allotment project is bearing fruit in more ways than one.
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Not only has it been named in the top five out of 3,500 schools nationwide for a green sustainability award, it is getting children out of the classroom and learning vital skills for their future.
He said: 'I've got an allotment myself and try to lead a sustainable life so I think it is important that children learn how to grow their own food because sadly we live in an age where not being sustaninable may well be the end of us.
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'It is important for children to escape the classroom and get outside as well.
'I put it forward for the Community Education Awards and we came in the top five for Green Sustainability which is fantastic in our first year.
'It has been a real team effort and I can't take credit for all the ideas the children have come up with.'
He said all the produce was sold to parents at events and they hoped to have a stall on Reepham market before long. Any profits go straight back into the project.
But they have already done remarkably well at creating the garden from nothing with donations and using scrap materials. The only item that has been bought is the polytunnel which was donated by the fund-raising Friends of the school.
They have also built their own drainage systems and even a soakaway so they can recycle rainwater.
Will Pryke, Craig Evans and Robert Webb, now in Year 13 and sitting A levels, were among the first group to create the allotment, giving up free time at weekends to laboriously dig the land.
'I think it's brilliant,' said Will. 'It is great to see how much it has changed when before there was nothing.'
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