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Wasteland to Wildlife Garden

Chesterton Community College, Cambridge.

We have been developing our school wasteland into a wildlife community garden for 2 years. The new garden has improved the school environment, created facilities for birds and wildlife. It offers a safe and peaceful space for members of the public to enjoy.

We applied for various grants and received money from Cambridgeshire County Council (Sustainability Grant) and money for Gifted and Talented summer school projects. This money was put towards working with a professional designer, paying for steps, a pond, plants, bird feeders and a raised flower bed. We have received volunteer help from students, parents and friends.

The garden was officially opened on April 21st 2007. The event included: a plant stall, card making, a treasure hunt, Easter Egg search, drawing competition, burying a time capsule (containing contributions from students about their impressions of 2007 and recollections of the open day), live music and a visit and grand opening from the Mayor of Cambridge. Students produced professional leaflets to be handed out to visitors.

Chesterton Wildlife Garden Leaflet
Chesterton Wildlife Garden Leaflet

Since then, the garden has been used by students groups, special needs visitors, the school gardening club, and master composters. Our next activity will be a photography competition supported by a local photographer and Chesterton Sports Centre.

The idea for this project originally came from Chesterton students and I selected students from years 6 and 7 to start the process, and meet the designer to put forward their ideas. They chose plants, where items should go and generally how to spend the money. The children saw the potential of this project and are still involved in upkeep, planting, composting and recycling. They have been interviewed on Radio Cambridgeshire and Star FM, have been in the local press and received a Bronze and Silver award from Eco-Schools for their achievements. Following this publicity of the project’s success it has been used by a number of people and groups.

Students have developed new skills, not only in the garden but also IT, interview techniques, dedication, teamwork and publicity awareness. I have written a report which has been published in G & T Update on the subject and success of their project. The garden has attracted squirrels, birds, a fox and insects for children to see and study.

The group will now help organise the photography competition and encourage new students to join the gardening group. we have the support of parents, governors, our head teacher, friends and master composter as well as Cambridge City Services who have supplied 4 compost bins and a water butt. We are now becoming more widely known in Cambridge and our events are advertised on Sue Dougan’s gardening programme on the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and in the Cambridge Evening News. The students have enjoyed the project and are very proud of their garden!

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