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Design Masterclass

How To Build a School Allotment

Where does food come from? Why are bees and worms useful?

Lowfield Primary School, Sheffield, participated in a food-growing programme launched by Groundwork and the Green Box Group. With the help of students from Year 1 to Year 6 we designed and set up an outdoor growing area that would be used as a teaching tool, enabling students to learn about producing vegetables and healthy food.

The design and construction of the allotment was a team project with Deborah Scholey of Groundwork, teaching staff of Lowfield Primary School and volunteers from the University of Sheffield.

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What was the brief?

Lowfield Primary School needed a mini-allotment to use as an outdoor classroom, where pupils would grow vegetables and herbs, getting hands-on experience whilst learning about food, soil, plants and worms. The school wanted to encourage teamwork and collaboration between students of different ages: the project was designed to achieve this goal by involving all the Year 1 to Year 6 students in a variety of group tasks.

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Project take-aways

Pupils familiarised themselves with all the stages of a design project, from brainstorming to the actual making. They were introduced to the concept of urban agriculture and researched low-cost options for domestic food production, working to a given budget.

All the stages were student-led, but were supervised by the teaching staff and Groundwork. The project helped to improve a set of skills ranging from numeracy to self-confidence and teamwork. We worked in groups, fuelling our creative and artistic skills with ideas about the allotment layout.

On the final day we took measurements of the school grounds, pegged out areas and got our hands dirty using construction and gardening tools. We set up the raised beds, created paths between them and planted lots and lots of seeds. Active learning at its best!

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A moment we will never forget

The opening day, when we planted our seeds and made decorative structures to embellish our raised beds, was the most fun part of it, with all the teams enthusiastic and excited about what they had previously designed themselves on paper. The sense of achievement on their faces was a great reward.