Young Ellon gardeners get Jim’s approval

Jim McColl, Darren Bryce, Ross Watson, Jacob Vavangas, Collin Stirling, representing the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, Dougal MacIver, and head teacher Pauline Buchan
Jim McColl, Darren Bryce, Ross Watson, Jacob Vavangas, Collin Stirling, representing the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, Dougal MacIver, and head teacher Pauline Buchan

Pupils at Ellon Academy made sure the school garden was looking its best for return recently of a special visitor.

They were thrilled to welcome back Jim McColl, from the BBC’s “Beechgrove Garden” programme, to see the fruits of their labour over the last year and to celebrate their achievements.

A watchful eye as some of the plants are inspected

A watchful eye as some of the plants are inspected

They gave him a tour and soup made by pupils from home-grown ingredients was served with sandwiches as they chatted.

This was followed by an award ceremony in the polytunnel classroom.

Parents and carers attended along with a select group of pupils and staff to support those being awarded their certificates.

Four S3 pupils were presented with a “Grow and Learn Roots Award” which is certified by the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society. It requires 80 hours of practical gardening and learning about seven core horticultural topics, with additional activities and personal goals being set.

A senior pupil was also awarded a silver level ASDAN certificate.

This is a varied life-skills course which also involved working on the school community garden project.

Susan Swallow, additional support for learning teacher and co-ordinator of TEAM-CG (The Ellon Academy Memorial Community Garden) said: “I am very proud that these youngsters have completed their courses.

“It is a fabulous recognition of their hard work and commitment to working outdoors with plants and crops, caring for the soil and recycling waste by composting in different ways.”

She added: “Pupils have learned new horticultural skills. The course, however, is about so much more – teamwork, confidence building, self-esteem and personal development.

“We are also helping in our own small way in the context of climate change. The biodiversity on site has increased hugely.

“We have many birds, bees, butterflies, worms and other invertebrates in and around the garden areas that simply were not there before.”

The garden was started on the move to the school site in August, 2015, and was built by volunteers and pupils with money raised themselves and through funding bids.

The main polytunnel and shed were bought with money raised within the ASL (additional support for learning) department.

School funding was used to buy basic tools and an early Tesco Bags of Help grant of £10,000 helped to purchase slabs, timber, gravel, sand for hard landscaping, and extra resources like boiler suits and boots.

To see how the garden has developed over the last four years, visit the blog at eagerbunch.blogspot.com.