Local produce and food production project celebrates the shoots of success in its second year
Despite challenges posed to pupils over the past year, local children have continued to embrace new ways of outdoor learning courtesy of a scheme funded by South Hook LNG and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust and delivered in partnership with the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.
The Roots/Gwreiddiau project was set up at the beginning of 2020 with the aim of strengthening links between schools and local food producers and raising awareness of how food is produced.
Since then, the project has gone from strength to strength, facilitating a wide range of outdoor learning opportunities in several local primary schools in the Milford Schools Cluster area.
Meadow conservation was an important theme at Johnston CP School over the summer term. On a visit to a conservation meadow at a local farm pupils learned plant and pollinator identification skills and met with National Park Conservation Officer Julie Garlick, who talked about her role of connecting landowners with conservation work. After putting some bushcraft skills to use so that they could toast marshmallows over a fire, pupils returned to school buzzing with ideas.
A meadow management plan is now in place for a field at the school, and it’s hoped that data will be collected from it to chart the impact of conservation management over time. Other Roots-related developments at Johnston CP include the assembly of a new polytunnel, planting potatoes and other vegetables in an allotment plot and the purchase of new equipment for the bushcraft area.
At Neyland Community School the Roots project has enabled teachers and pupils to continue on their outdoor learning, with training facilitated by Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools and delivered by Tir Coed. Raised beds have also been installed, filled and planted as part of a school growing area.
Pupils at Gelliswick VC School also received support from the scheme to develop growing areas, and are looking at some interesting ideas to weave nearby natural locations and resources into the curriculum.
Other schools to benefit from the Roots project include St Francis Catholic School in Milford Haven, who are looking at installing a new herb garden in in their courtyard; and Coastlands CP, who’ve progressed from orchard-planting to reorganising the school growing areas and learning more about bees with National Park Ranger, Vicky Sewell.
Director of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust, Nichola Couceiro, said: “It’s been a pleasure to enter into the second year of our partnership with South Hook LNG and watch the Roots project begin to flourish and see first-hand the enjoyment and benefit the children get from being part of the scheme.
“We’d like to thank National Park Authority staff, teachers and members of the community who’ve made it possible to provide such valuable outdoor learning experiences, and look forward to seeing the impact of the project in years to come.”
To learn more about outdoor learning programmes available to schools, go to www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/for-schools-and-educators.