Bloom year gets underway

The Bristol in Bloom year really gets underway with our Edible Garden competition for children of school age.

The winning garden will be planted up with the children’s help, in the Bristol Zoo Garden. This is a fantastic opportunity for the children to learn all about the plants that nature provide us to eat, as well as the more conventional vegetables. This year any edible plant can be used, previously we have had feed the animals, feed the visitors and edible flowers.

One of the many different festivals that Bristol is home to is Bristol Food Connections, which runs over 1 - 11 May. Bristol in Bloom will be there, along with the allotments department, to promote all the projects that we are involved with across the city, as well as lending support to the blossoming Incredible Edible Bristol initiative. The use of vegetables in the city's flower beds has increased over the past few years and the idea is a firm favourite with residents and visitors. One of our It’s Your Neighbourhood entries, Windmill Hill City Farm, will also be there running Family Growing sessions; these are intended to encourage families to make the connection between growing and eating food, the vegetable seed sowing activities will also include making your own pots.

It is just about time to send out the Learning Through Gardening entry forms to the schools across Bristol. The emphasis of this competition is the involvement of the children, but how the project is managed through teaching staff or parents is entirely flexible. The ethos of the competition is to encourage children’s awareness of their natural surroundings with a hands-on approach to learning. It doesn’t have to be whole classes; small numbers of children participating are just as eligible as Gardening Clubs. Neither does it have to be the whole garden – even a school with a small area for growing can enter a project using pots and containers.

These are just some of the things that we are hoping to see incorporated into the school curriculum:

  • Vegetable Garden: either on school grounds or allotment sites
  • Designing: a flowerbed or garden and/or vegetable garden
  • Gardening Clubs: looking after an existing area
  • Pots or Containers: for growing vegetables and plants
  • Planting a new area: trees, shrubs, bulbs and flowers
  • Nature project: bird boxes, hedgehog houses, ponds
  • Organic growing methods: recycling materials
  • Composting schemes
  • Conservation area: cultivating native plants
  • Relating the project to the wider school curriculum: cooking, science etc
  • Using diaries, records, photos: to record activities, dates of flowering plants, bird and wildlife identification.

This is a very exciting project that has been running for some years now and it is a pleasure to see just how enthusiastic and involved the children actually are.

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