A whole community pulls together to bring a super school garden to life
When Gold Medal Garden Designer Cleve West received a package of children’s garden designs, he responded with an illustrated letter saying, ‘sorry I’m busy at Chelsea right now, but I will call by when I have the time’.
True to his word, a few months later, he visited Christ Church Battersea Primary School, the first and only school in London to achieve Gold Level Accreditation for Learning outside the classroom.
Pupils showed Cleve the wasteland, describing ideas to transform it into a stunning garden. Cleve said, ‘not bad’. He took their ideas, applied his skill and helped draw up the plan.
Someone asked Cleve why are you helping? His said: ‘these kids are amazing, they have a great take on gardening, and they don’t hurt animals’.
Everyone agreed that the resulting plan was stunning and would most certainly attract a Gold Medal at Chelsea; but it still needed funding to happen. The school is in an urban environment overlooked by tower blocks, whilst rich in spirit, it is cash poor.
So the children started digging and drawing. They used trowels to dig the length of the playground and entered an art competition with Royal Parks to design a wildlife garden for invertebrates with the hope that it might bring some money in. They submitted their design and won. Royal Parks kindly said they would help – but it wasn’t quite enough (it is a very big design after all!).
So the Digging the Love campaign started… children offered pocket money, they sold fruit and veg they had grown and they asked for help.
The local fire station heard the plea and they said, OK, we are not on a call right now. We can come and move the PE shed that is blocking your way (it was too heavy for pupils to lift and needed specialist equipment).
40 Good Gym Runners from the local running club also heard the plea. They arrived one evening wearing head torches so they could see and they cleared brambles, moved concrete slabs and dug out shrubs which were too difficult for the children to manage.
Cleve’s friends at ISG and Rochford and said, we will help clear the rubbish if you like?
Ps We made a funny video with a load of famous people – you can watch it here if you like: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC48ZBxxW3jpntf_yBrBFS7g
For more information
Telephone Christ Church School: 020 7228 2812
Head teacher: Colette Morris
And Cleve’s story is hereKitchen Garden reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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