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School allotment gardens grow with funding boost

A renowned horticultural college is helping school allotment gardens grow with funding boost.

Pershore College, which is part of WCG, has sponsored the Worcester Show Schools’ Gardening Competition since 2019, with its support helping many young people get involved with their school gardens and allotments.

The Worcester Allotments Forum, responsible for managing 23 allotment sites across the city, recently announced its closure, now that Worcester City Council is picking up management of the sites.

The Forum therefore decided to donate its remaining funds of £1,250 to schools with their own allotments or gardens.

Interesting applications for a share of between £100 and £800 of the Forum’s Closure Fund were received from 15 schools, leaving the Forum with a challenge to decide which ones to grant.

Applications covered a wide range of short and medium-term plans including buying water hoses, plants, seeds and tools to grow produce, as well as building planting structures, with one school’s plans for vertical planters directly inspired by a visit to the garden centre at Pershore College.

Schools also have longer term plans to improve their green spaces with projects like constructing raised beds and greenhouses, repairing ponds and creating a peace garden.

The original fund was matched by Pershore College, while a successful match-funding grant from Worcester City Council contributed a further £2,750 – bringing the total fund to £5,250.

With the additional funding secured, the Forum decided to divide the total fund equally between all 15 schools, granting £350 to each school.

Staff from the schools and their gardening club pupils gathered at the Pump House in Worcester’s Gheluvelt Park to receive their grants.

The event was supported by The Deputy Mayor of Worcester, Cllr Louis Stephen, together with Mark Whittaker from Pershore College, Cllr Mel Allcott and Cllr Owen Cleary of Worcester City Council, and members of Worcester Allotments Forum, Pat Gething, vice chairman, Chris Thorp, secretary, and Fran Stallard, treasurer, who presented the cheques to the schools’ representatives.

Chris Thorp said: “We had such a wealth of wonderful applications I am delighted we are able to award funding to such a huge variety of worthwhile school allotments and gardening clubs across Worcester.

“They are great spaces for young people to explore the outdoors, develop practical skills and learn more about nature and biodiversity. We believe that a pound planted now will grow into tomorrow’s gardeners and horticulturalists.

“I look forward to watching as the projects bloom and develop, and to seeing many of these schools enter the Schools Garden Competition at the Worcester Show in 2023.”

Mark Whittaker, from Pershore College, passed out details of the Worcester Show’s annual Schools’ Gardening Competition, which the college will be sponsoring in 2023.

Mark said: “We were delighted to sponsor the Worcester Show’s Schools’ Gardening competition again this year and to now help boost the schools with this additional injection of funds at the start of their competition projects.

“The scheme is a great way for local schools to engage their young people in gardening and allotments, and we are pleased to present each school with £50 vouchers for use in Pershore College’s garden centre to help their gardens grow.”

Cllr Louis Stephen, Deputy Mayor of Worcester City Council, said: “It was fantastic be at the event and see the enthusiasm of the many students taking part in the funding awards ceremony.

“Gardening is so important for supporting wildlife and biodiversity as well as helping our physical and mental health.”

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