Sighthill School Farm
The School Farm project at Sighthill Primary began in August 2019, but was forced to halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. During school closures the project adapted to provide online activities and accompanying videos for the pupils and their families, centred around growing from the home. To complement these activities, pupils and their families could collect pre-prepared activity packs from the school in line with government regulations. Throughout the difficult period of isolation, this enabled the pupils to stay connected to their classmates and friends, and provided some much needed relief from boredom in a way that kept them engaged with the natural world, whether that was in their back garden, on their back step or even a windowsill. This was well received, with around 100 packets distributed per video and, worked to complement what the pupils were learning in their online lessons.
With the return to school, plans could begin to re-establish the School Farm site. We welcomed a new School Farm Leader, Shona Nelson, in August 2021, and members of our Growing Youth team began to work to clear the site, which had become largely unmanageable throughout lockdowns. Shortly following the start of the school year, School Farm Sessions re-started with the Primary 6 class, totalling around 25 pupils, and have been running every Tuesday and Wednesday since September. An initial introductory session with their School Farm Leader allowed the pupils to see the site, and explore what they would like to grow, as well as what they would like to do with the produce following harvest time in 2022, with a range of vegetables, fruits and wildflowers suggested including varieties that they may be less familiar with. Pupils demonstrated a positive inclination to share the produce they grow and harvest locally, through both a community table set-up next to the Calders Community Garden, and distribution to food banks. The former will also allow for a community-centred link between the School Farm and one of our other community growing projects. They also hope to contribute produce to the school meals made on-site, meaning the other classes could feel the benefit of the School Farm too.
From the introductory session, pupils have since been shown how to use the necessary tools to weed and clear the raised beds on site, in order that planting and growing can begin, and the weeding process has been met with a lot of enthusiasm. Pupils have also enjoyed identifying and learning about a variety of wildlife. They were pleased to find that the apple and plum trees, as well as raspberry canes were still able to be used, and designated a wildflower area. In order to create a holistic experience, Shona has liaised with the class teachers to ascertain what the pupils are learning in class each week, and planned School Farm sessions accordingly. Coincidentally, at the beginning of term the pupils were learning about seeds in class, and later sowed poppy seeds in the farm in order to translate the theory they had learned in class to a practical environment and establish a strong link between the classroom and School Farm site.