The motto for Sulby School on the Isle of Man is ‘learning is a great adventure’. The pupils enjoy experiencing plenty of outdoor life in the school’s extensive grounds, which include a wildlife area, a willow house and maze, a meadow garden, a large organic garden, traversing wall, amphitheatre, open fields….and a windproof school Keder Greenhouse!
Funds for the Keder Greenhouse were raised through a sponsored wildlife quiz and donations from the school PTA. The rest of the garden was donated to the school by well-known organic gardener & member of the Isle of Man Permaculture Association, Mill Millichap. Mill, who had a grandson at the school, wanted a memento of his 60th birthday. He recommended the Keder Greenhouse, as he knew of its reputation for withstanding cold winds, particularly relevant for the Isle of Man! He brought in volunteers from Italy and Greece who had been working on organic farms to help create the garden and install the greenhouse.
An extra teaching dimension
Each year group has a different responsibility within the garden. Year 4 is responsible for growing produce inside the windproof school greenhouse, including annual salad crops as well as a large and very productive nectarine tree. Year 5 grows vegetables in six raised beds outside the greenhouse, which they harvest in Year 6 to sell to parents. Year 3 tends the soft fruits; the class recently held a Rhubarb Day where the crops were made into fools and crumbles or boxed up and sold to parents. Year 2s grow pumpkins and potatoes, while Year 1 and Reception also tend separate growing areas within the garden.
Deputy Headteacher, Jude Needham, explains the benefits of the Keder Greenhouse to the school. “The children are more adventurous when it comes to trying food they have grown themselves. We have been very pleased with our Keder greenhouse and the extra dimensions to teaching it has allowed us to deliver. Crops grown include tomatoes, courgettes and cucumbers that the children are encouraged to cut up and eat. They have even tried borage and French sorrel, although sometimes not more than once! Because they have grown it, they will give it a go! They love the practical nature of gardening and they learn essential skills such as responsibility, team work and independence through their work.”