Growing Community Roots Project, Tallaght – St. Brigid’s Junior National School Garden

Students at St. Brigid’s Junior National School in Tallaght planted vegetables, fruit and herbs in their school garden. The boys and girls take turns to be the gardeners. Some children regularly check for slugs and snails while others are in charge of measuring how much the plants grow. Under the direction of parent volunteers and a group of teachers they are responsible for taking care of the garden. From watering to composting to harvesting, the children get really involved in growing fruit, vegetables and herbs. They then make the link between growing and eating vegetables and that eating vegetables is part of a healthy lifestyle. By bringing home garden produce they involve their parents in the school garden.

Garden related activities
Students weed and water the garden. They identify what vegetables and herbs are growing and pick and eat the produce in school. Their harvest includes spring onions, beetroot, cabbage, lettuce, kale, carrots, turnips, apples and blackcurrants. A free vegetable stall is set up at home time so that all the parents have an opportunity to bring home vegetables from the school garden.

The Resource Teacher brought Senior Infants that had read the story of the enormous turnip out to pull turnips. They then cooked and ate them in school. Another class picked lettuce, washed it and gave it to other classes to eat on their lunch sandwiches. All classes compost leftover pencil parings, apple cores and banana peels. Students picked rhubarb and the Home School Community Liaison Co-ordinator made jam.

Teacher Comments
Our school garden is very much a group effort including children, teachers, Special Needs Assistants, the Caretaker and parents. As a school we have found it to be a great asset as it provides authentic learning opportunities. It is a very useful tool in promoting the healthy lifestyle message adopted by the Growing Community Roots project. It makes healthy eating tangible and practical for all involved. We are very proud of our school garden and even welcomed visitors from the Fatima Garden Project. It’s great to share ideas and show what we have achieved.

The power of learning achieved through the garden is best shown through the words of the children themselves. It shows what they did and their understanding of the link between the garden and having a healthy lifestyle. They are coming to a deeper understanding of where the food they eat comes from:

“I picked slugs to stop them eating the plants. I brought home a carrot to show my dad. He said “It’s a fat carrot.” We had to put newspaper in the compost. We need a garden to grow vegetables. My favourite vegetables to eat are carrots.”

“I watered the vegetables. I brought home lettuce and I put it on a sandwich and brought it into school for lunch. It tasted nice. My favourite vegetable to eat is cabbage. I eat cabbage with bacon and potato. My Granny makes that for me. It is my favourite dinner. She normally makes it for special occasions like Christmas or if I am good.”

“My favourite vegetables are potatoes and carrots. The garden helps you to be healthy by eating the vegetables out of it. The most thing I love about it is I get to water the plants and show the vegetables to the other classes. I like the garden because I get to see baby plants growing and I like picking up plants because they are so tiny. They are very small.”

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