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Steep Primary School – In Touch with Nature Project update

*Steep Eco Garden

Year six in 2018 started this project by designing the garden as a competition, however they came up with some great ideas so decided to combine them and come up with the plan on page 2, this year group also donated the first initial £140 towards the project. The only other funding received has been a £250 grant from Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots. Extensive applications have failed due to COVID-19 and criteria changes. All other materials used so far are recycled and repurposed or donated. The community has been involved in clearing the land and volunteers have come forward with advice and man hours, a whole school and community planting was due to take place, unfortunately this has been postponed until the spring due to a second lockdown. To complete the garden.

This garden will not only allow another space for learning throughout the curriculum, but it will enable the children to see biodiversity happening right under their noses. The different areas will entice different species and create a flow from the existing woodlands and pond. It will be set up for the children to maintain using the compost they make and areas for them to plant annuals or fruit and vegetables. Fruiting hedgerows will be used as well as a large planter which will also hold a wormery and woven fences from the trees in the garden to create borders. The garden has been designed to show a range of habitats, plants and wildlife including but not limited to pollinators, mini beasts, birds and small mammals. A hibernaculum has been created using rubble and pipes that were found when clearing to enable the wildlife from the pond to integrate into the garden alongside bug hotels, bird feeders and boxes.

First ideas – Areas will be set up for bio-diversity purposes, areas such as flowers for pollinators and other wildlife, rotten wood, mulch, rocks and stones for mini beasts and other wildlife, composting bins, a hide to overlook the garden and pond, a bug hotel to provide habitats, a place for a hedgehog home, possibly a bee hive and a space for educational learning. This can be used for observing the garden or hands on creating natural fencing etc. Bird feeders will be sporadically placed around the garden, at least two around the hide, to encourage the local birdlife for observing. Children will be encouraged to make the feeders and birdboxes.

Redesign – Most of the areas are the same but due to the planting area being too shady, it was decided that this area be best suited to a wooden area, consisting of logs, rotten wood, mulch and shady pollinator plants. The grasslands and planting will now happen in the top area where it will get more light.  Once clearing started there was also an opportunity to add a larger area for composting, this will now also include a compost sieve and turner.

March 2020 – before work began. As seen the land is very overgrown, there is an abundance of stinging nettles.

April 2020 – area cleared of nettles and the surplus tress due to overcrowding or sickness. Still needs a lot of work, many, many hours of clearing rubble, rubbish and tree waste.

August, September and October 2020 – clearing has finished, the areas have been marked out and woodchip laid in the education area. Compost bins have been built form pallets. A bug hotel was also constructed from a gate and fence panels found dumped in the garden, this will hold rubble in the bottom, logs and wood in the middle and bamboo in the top to signify the different areas of the garden and what was unearthed. Logs and rotting wood are being piled and the hibernaculum has begun to take shape.

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