A Farm in the School

Inspiration from Inverness High

The growing space at Inverness High School really has to be seen to believed! It is a majestic sight and packed with inspiring ideas for projects large and small.
It’s a fantastic set-up, beautifully and cleverly managed. It ranges from veg plots with tatties, salads and herbs, to fruit trees, bushes, elderflowers, pollinators, wild and cultivated flowers and even has a pond stuffed with tadpoles and pondskaters – just the thing for biology classes.

 

Beds, polytunnels and woodchip paths

Beds, polytunnels and woodchip paths

The Geography department have been using square metre farms. Groups of pupils have named their farms and planted crops – hard to choose between the inventive titles but I think ‘Guinea Pig Groceries’ might just be our winner!

 

The farm is managed by staff member Morag and two dedicated volunteers, Anne and Sandra, who work there every weekday morning.

 

It doesn't get much fresher than this!

It doesn’t get much fresher than this!

Learning support pupils and the Rural Skills classes of 15-20 pupils use the garden and there are plans to further integrate it into the school and partner up with the Home Economics department.

 

Meanwhile salad bags and herbs are sold to staff members with fees going to the school fund. Pupils are in charge of picking and preparing the bags, putting them in the wheelbarrow shop, emailing teachers and delivering the bags.

 

The salad bags are delicious and brilliant value, full of a variety of different tasting lettuces, mizuna, rocket, dill, coriander and chives, with nasturtium flowers when they’re available.

 

Even a small bed in a polytunnel can supply a massive amount and be sown and harvested in rotation. Morag takes care to water the plants the night before and cut them early if the day is going to be hot so they last well and are less likely to wilt. In fact these bags will last 5 days in the fridge. In autumn, the bags change to soup packs with root veg.

Expert salad bag prep at the garden sink

Expert salad bag prep at the garden sink

Preparing the bags is carried out at the sink on site – just what every self-respecting garden needs! A final wash just before eating and these lovely leaves are ready to go.

 

Other crops include beetroot which will be made into pickles and chutneys, pumpkins, mange tout (a favourite of pupils as you can eat the whole thing), peas and broad beans – a handy early crop. It’s important to have things to keep interest throughout the year.

 

Some of the herbs are allowed to go to flower to make nectar rich beds for bees.

Bed of sage - heaven for bees

Bed of sage – heaven for bees

Top tips

  • Make it impossible to fail. Use small areas of ground – like the 1 metre square geography farm or even a square foot for younger pupils.
Super-efficient weed control

Super-efficient weed control

 

  • Dig over ground and cover until ready to use. Roll back the cover bit by bit as you are ready to use it.

 

  • Make friends with a tree surgeon. The paths are all covered in woodchip supplied by a local tree surgeon – who would normally have to pay to dispose of the wood – and topping up the paths is a great autumn job. The tree surgeon also gives a bit of time maintaining trees, pruning and teaching classes.

     

    When the weather turns in winter, continue Rural Skills classes indoors with making windowboxes and wreaths, and potting up spring bulbs and herbs.

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  • Because cows chew their food more, the manure has less weed seeds in than horse manure so is the best low maintenance fertiliser!

 

  • And finally – don’t forget to close the gate on your way out!
All you can eat buffet for rabbits on the other side of the gate.

All you can eat buffet for rabbits on the other side of the gate.