Friday, 25 October 2019 12:57

Volunteers kept busy at Totteridge Academy community farm

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 Preparing a flower bed was the challenge for the Slane family. From left to right, Ollie Slane (7), Sarah Alun-Jones, Grow’s outdoor learning manager, Isla Slane (11) a pupil at Totteridge Academy, and Mrs Anne Slane. Preparing a flower bed was the challenge for the Slane family. From left to right, Ollie Slane (7), Sarah Alun-Jones, Grow’s outdoor learning manager, Isla Slane (11) a pupil at Totteridge Academy, and Mrs Anne Slane.
A community farm being established next to Totteridge Academy held a well-attended half-term family day when parents, pupils and children joined working parties to help prepare land and start planting.

A six-acre field next to the school is being prepared for livestock and growing crops by an educational charity, Grow – www.grow-up.co

Grow plans to construct a multi-purpose outdoor classroom where up to 250 pupils a year from Totteridge Academy will be able to attend classes in farming and growing food.

Sarah Alun-Jones, Grow’s outdoor learning manager, said many more pupils and their parents came along to the volunteer day than she had expected, but there was plenty for everyone to do.

Several working parties cleared weeds and rubbish from the entrance to the field ready for planting flower beds with lavender, rosemary and other plants.

Younger children planted up pots with tulip bulbs ready for sale at a stall at the Barnet Christmas Fare on Sunday 1 December.

Our aim is to produce vegetables for the school canteen, and hopefully for the local community as well

“The turn-out was amazing and we had no shortage of volunteers for tasks like laying out matting, picking up litter and planting seeds.”

A crowd funding campaign this summer raised £161,000 towards the cost of the outdoor classroom and the development of the community farm.

In addition to £50,000 from the Mayor of London’s appeal, a £50,000 personal donation, £5,000 from Barnet Council, there were 330 personal donations of around £5 to £10.

The multi-purpose classroom, to be built from carbon neutral hempcrete which is made from hemp stems, will have space for a class of 25 pupils.

Ms Alun-Jones is hoping to begin cultivation with the pupils next spring, and they will start by growing a range of vegetables, salad crops and flowers.

“Our aim is to produce vegetables for the school canteen, and hopefully for the local community as well.”

Lucy Hollis, educational manager for the farm project, is hoping that all year seven and eight pupils at Totteridge Academy – aged between 11 and 12 – will benefit from a lesson a week in food, farming and well-being.

  

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