On the 25th March this year over 100 parents, pupils, staff and volunteers gathered at Four Lanes Junior School, Chineham, Basingstoke for their Ground Force Day as one next big step on their learning journey into the environment, planting, growing and sustainability.
Ground Force day saw a father pay for 12 tractor tyres to be delivered to site to enable the hard standing areas to be softened with plants and small trees. Veolia donated the composted from it's plant at Bushy Warren which the tyres were filled with.
The Players of The People’s Postcode Lottery were a big supporter by funding a new 25 tree orchard. With input from Incredible Edible the apple trees were planted in three locations around the site. The varieties included Arthur Turner, Lord Lambourne, Royal Gala, Sunset, Egremount Russet, Bramley’s Seedling, Falstaff, Blenheim Orange, Winter Gem, Fiesta, Ambassy, Kids Orange Red, Charles Ross, Bountiful and Rev W Wilks. Veolia provided the compost used in the planting of the trees. All 25 trees were planted in just 2 hours.
This has been a challenging year for planting and growing things with the weather arriving (or not) at abnormal times and with abnormal severity. Writing this in mid-July, there have been a couple of casualties to the trees, but overall they are doing really well; not in small part to the pupils watering them every lunchtime and by taking an interest and ownership in the welfare of the trees.
The schools success is reflected in their activities and achievements together with the support they are attracting and generating:
- Recently a cycling day covered 200 miles in a single day traveling from Basingstoke to Bath onto Bournemouth and back and in the process raising £1500!
- Chineham Parish Council is supporting the school through funding a weather station. The Netatmo system records temperature, humidity, pressure, rainfall. This will allow all kinds of projects into the weather, seasonal variations, impact on planting projects ........
- The Woodland Trust is supporting the school through the supply of a hedge consisting of 50 plants
- Bird feeders are being installed together with feeder cams enabling the study of birds and their feeding habits
The coming school year will see the Tesco Bags for Help scheme enable the Space to Grow project whereby every class will gain it's own growing space.
Raised beds will be placed on the hard standing ground.
The more detailed planning for a rolling program of activities through the three terms of the coming school year kicks off in September to cover the full life cycle: Plan, Do, Maintain.
A big challenge for the school is watering: Plans are getting under way to enhance the sustainability of the planting projects through the provision of outside taps, water butts and rain water harvesting, hose pipes.....
A living Willow arch is being planned which will provide an interesting feature for the pupils to enjoy and enable the support of other climbing plants for both decoration and eating.
Four Lanes School is a hive of activity (no bees yet, maybe soon??) and with the help and support of volunteers and sponsors is providing a rich learning experience for pupils into the environment, planting, growing and sustainability.