ST Patrick’s Boys’ National School, Skibbereen, has won yet another award, this time the Muintir na Tire Cork School Garden of the Year title, at the Cork School Garden Awards at County Hall.
This follows hot on the heels of their recent national success as The Southern Star representatives in the Get-Involved awards run by the regional newspapers association, Local Ireland.
The green-fingered children, from all classes of the school, have helped create a sensory path and garden, a zen garden, a living tunnel leading to its own willow dome, and a series of raised vegetable beds, one for each class in the school, which features everything from sweetcorn to onions and potatoes. It can be viewed on Saturdays during the summer as part of the West Cork Garden Trail.
Inside, their geodome, they grow everything from bananas and tea plants to avocado, melons, tomatoes, and squash, as well as a selection of colourful but deadly carnivorous plants such as the Venus flytrap and pitcher plant. Staff and pupils have worked very hard on their garden. Each class has its own vegetable bed, on which the children and their teacher grow a selection of vegetables, berries, and even flowers.
Junior infants, for example, cultivate sunflowers and strawberries, first class pupils grow onions and shallots, while sixth-class pupils concentrate on potatoes. They have also planted an orchard and fruit bushes.
Their garden has many other memorable elements other than food production, biodiversity, upcycling, colour and art, fun and play, as well as learning opportunities for each class.
The garden includes many features to encourage wildlife and biodiversity.
The pupils are very mindful of the plight of all their tiny friends – especially the bees and they developed a ‘wild patch’ to help these tiny creatures and a bug hotel. They have also developed a nature walk to encourage biodiversity.
Upcycling is also important here with composting and rainwater harvesting employed to great effect. Colour is achieved by reusing everyday items as sculpture and art in the garden and the garden offers many opportunities for fun and play.
There is also natural amphitheatre, which doubles as an outdoor classroom.