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Connecting with nature
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Students at Ark Burlington Danes Academy chose empty, unused patches in their playground as areas to focus on for their project. Realising that nature connectedness was at an all-time low at their school, these students pledged to work together to make better use of the space they had on site.

The students were passionate about creating a nature garden, to give many benefits to their school community, and to boost student wellbeing by providing a calm space. The garden also helped to strengthen student understanding and connectedness to the natural world and helped reduce consumption in the school by growing their own fruit and vegetables to be used in the canteen.

The group got stuck in straight away, sketching a plan for the garden’s structure, marking out the areas for each part of the garden, looking through all the tools and equipment and researching the correct type of plants and vegetables to plant.

3 students are stood around a picnic bench, wearing gardening gloves and planting seeds in pots.
Two raised beds planted with flowers and herbs at the side of a field.

“We now have a fully working nature garden, growing vegetables and flowers. Our biggest success is the creation of the nature garden. Linked to that is the student engagement in that. The students have really enjoyed it and they LOVE watering!“

Olivia Petri, MFL Teacher,
Ark Burlington Danes Academy

The students were excited that local community organisation Groundwork offered to support the project and visited the school every week to support the students with building flower beds and bringing their ideas to life.

After a few months, the unused space was unrecognisable. Beds were teeming with flowers and fresh vegetables and the site team are not mowing the grass so there is a wild meadow growing! Students also made a water feature with some lights.

Every week, the students are really excited to spend time in the garden. They have been able to harvest tomatoes and potatoes and were able to take them home to their families, and they have really started to enjoy watering and weeding the garden. 

The students plan to continue to develop the use of this area to aid intervention sessions for students in need.

“We have been able to support a school design their nature garden, with a build day for some of the bigger and strenuous elements of the garden with a team of corporate volunteers scheduled for this March. The students are also completing a 15 session gardening programme with one of our Community Gardeners - learning about food growing and gardening to biodiversity.

- Lauren Ashley-Boyall
Community Programme Manager (West)
Groundwork London

Groundworks staff helping to build a raised bed.

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