Our Flower Patch

Inspiring a new generation of growers


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Mud, mud, glorious mud

mudday-250x199

Getting muddy around the world

Usually the start of Wimbledon Fortnight and the end of the Glastonbury Festival is the perfect time to get down and dirty with mud, as the June skies cloud over and drop enormous quantities of the wet stuff on us all. However, this year our flower patches are more dust bowls than muddy puddles. It’s scorchio in Wiltshire and Cally is building up her muscles lugging full watering cans over to her allotment on a regular basis.

Nevertheless yesterday was an international celebration of all things muddy. International Mud Day was initiated by the World Forum Foundation, which aims to promote an on-going global exchange of ideas on the delivery of quality services for young children in diverse settings. It’s a great idea. Children love getting muddy and it’s a well known fact that fewer children are allowed to nowadays than in the past. Some children don’t own old, scruffy clothes, I recently discovered whilst working on a community painting project. 

As the World Forum Foundation highlights “studies have recently revealed the positive qualities of earth, soil, and mud. Science says that being barefoot is good for you. Mud has microscopic bacteria that soothes you, relaxes you, and calms you down. So that’s why it feels so good to kick off your shoes and socks!” And that’s why allowing children to dig in the soil, sow seeds, weed, nurture seedlings and get dirty is good for them too. We’d love to help you set up a gardening programme at your school which gets children in touch with the earth. Get in touch with the flower patch girls.

 


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The Classroom in the Garden – British Science Week

British Science Week 2015 logo

British Science Week 13th-22nd March 2015

British Science week runs from the 13th – 22nd March. It is organised by the British Science Association and activities and events across the UK for all ages help to encourage people to engage with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

The website is really helpful and you can have a look to find events near you or to download activity packs. There are also two Citizen Science projects you could take part in. 

Here at Our Flower Patch we do our best to help you teach various elements of the curriculum through the garden. We provide our members with weekly lesson plans for activities to be carried out in the outdoor classroom. Last week there was a business and marketing slant to the activity, as well as elements of practical maths. We have looked at the Science of what plants need to thrive, and used Design and Technology to create recycled items to use in the school garden. There will be plenty of Scientific observation coming up as the seeds get sown, and the seedlings begin to grow. Profit and loss, income and expenditure will all feature once the flowers are being cut to be sold in our members mini business enterprises, excellent examples of hands on practical Maths.

Who knew you could teach so much through a school garden…well…us of course!

There is still time to become a member for the rest of the academic year. Just £85.00 buys your school, or home schoolers access to specially chosen packs of flower seeds and your weekly lesson plans. We will guide you through the whole process of growing flowers, and using the garden as a classroom.

Daffodils in the school garden

Business acumen through a humble British Daffodil.

 

 

 


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Fairtrade flowers

Fairtrade Fortnight logo

Fairtrade Fortnight

A walk round my local ethical supermarket ‘Who Cares’ in Bradford on Avon has revealed that once again we are in Fairtrade Fortnight, a time to highlight the importance of buying ethical coffee, sugar, chocolate, bananas and all manner of other imported goods. In food terms, despite the slightly higher cost, people are more aware now of the importance of buying ethically when it comes to food, if they can afford to. There have been a number of high profile campaigns highlighting how big companies are committed to paying farmers of imported goods a fair share of the profits from their cultivation and investing in their communities too. Sadly the fairtrade flower market is not so well known. I’d be surprised if more than a small percentage of the millions of people buying flowers on Valentine’s Day recently asked exactly what conditions their blooms were grown in. This article from the Guardian is an interesting read and perfectly illustrates how far flower farming has to come to be on a par with coffee growing in terms of Fairtrade. Although at Our Flower Patch we are championing the cause of locally grown, seasonal flowers by helping schools set up their own mini flower farms via our enterprise programme we are aware that there are times when people will want to buy blooms out of season. In that case, buying ethically from fairtrade farmers is the best thing. You’ll find more information on Fairtrade Flowers here.

Fairtrade Flowers logo

Fairtrade Flowers


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Wildlife Action Awards for Schools

 

Hawkshead moth caterpillar with a child's finger for scale.

Hawkshead moth caterpillar with a child’s finger for scale.

This week on  the blog we want to highlight the RSPB’s  Wildlife Action Award for Schools. For schools who are already learning outside the classroom, it is an easy way to endorse some of your outdoor learning. For those who would like to expand their provision, then it can provide a focus, which will assist teachers in creating exciting learning activities. It will also help to make  school grounds a sustainable wildlife haven and demonstrate commitment to providing frequent, continuous and progressive learning outside the classroom.This can lead to the  Council for Learning Outside the Classroom‘s Schools Mark. Good for pupils, school grounds, wildlife and the planet. That’s not bad, is it?

Of course, if you are one of the Our Flower Patch member schools, following our programme means that you have an easy way to tick off many of the action points to help secure the award.  Check out our website for information about how to join us. Here’s a list of the activities taken from the award booklet, many of which form part of our National curriculum linked activity zone sessions.

Section 1 : Finding out what’s there 
1.1What’s that flower?
1.2 Plant survey
1.3 Minibeasts close-up
1.4 Counting butterflies and moths
1.5 Pond dipping
1.6 Go birdwatching
1.7 Big Garden Birdwatch
1.8 Big Schools’ Birdwatch
1.9 Take part in a survey
1.10 Between the tides
Section 2: Helping wildlife
2.1 Where minibeasts live
2.2 Creating a pond (double point activity)
2.3 Nestboxes for birds
2.4 Feeding birds
2.5 Bat Boxes
2.6 Helping hedgehogs
2.7 Planting trees
2.8 Wildlife garden (double point activity)
2.9 Looking after a wildlife garden/pond
Section 3: Being environmentally friendly
3.1 Save it
3.2 Bike, bus or walk
3.3 Reduce, re-use, recyle
3.4 Composting
3.5 Green shopping and food
3.6 Collecting litter
3.7 Climate Action Award
Section 4: Spread the word
4.1 Get Creative
4.2 Put on a show
4.3 Make a display
4.4 Get in the news
4.5 Write to your MP
4.6 Raise funds for wildlife
4.7 Involve others

Growing a flower patch is great for wildlife and running a sustainable, eco friendly enterprise in school ensures that your pupils already understand the value of composting, recycling and spreading the word about local crops and green shopping. You see how much we’re helping you tick all the boxes?

If you’re reading this and are not a teacher in a school, here’s the good news, there are separate awards for families, homeschoolers and community groups too. Check out the website for further details.

poplar hawk-moth

A Poplar Hawk-moth