Carnaun School Organic Garden Diary – June 2005

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Paul McCormack ready to sow some plants

In this issue, Organic Matters begins a new organic school garden series for Primary Schools. It will feature the garden and pupils of Carnaun N. S. in County Galway which is the only school in Ireland to have achieved full organic status.

In Carnaun School we were always interested in Environmental Awareness. Over the years we had lots of practical projects in the school resulting in our School Heritage Trail. The school has been litter-free since 1990 and we were awarded our 1st European Green Flag in 2000. So, it was a natural progression to look for an Organic Symbol. After 3 years of conversion (2003) we were awarded this status. We love to work in the Garden – it’s our favourite subject and it gets us out of the classroom.

In Organic Gardening we do not use harmful chemicals, pesticides or artificial fertilizers. We make our own compost to help the vegetables grow and we rotate our crops so that the goodness will remain in the soil.

To have a balanced rotation – divide the garden in four and sow in one division potatoes followed next year by roots (carrots and parsnips), then brassica (cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts etc.) and then legumes (peas and beans). This means that we get the best return from the soil, avoid pests and diseases and keep weeds under control. When we grow up, we hope to have an organic garden of our own or to be able to buy fresh organic produce locally.

We have an inspection every year and we look forward to Mr. David Storey’s visit. After our inspection he gives us lots of help, advice and encouragement

Gardening diary

January, February, March: We started the year with a Spring Cleanup in the schoolyard, garden, pond, compost bins and cut back plants and shrubs that have become too big.

April: We dug over the garden in April to get rid of winter weeds. Old plants, like cabbage, were put on the compost heap. Then we sowed some seed in trays of compost. We gave them to a local horticulturalist who will look after them in her glasshouse. Soon we will get a little tunnel of our own. (Schools can also buy the plants from an organic grower). Later on, we will be planting out and caring for the garden.

Gerry Qualter, Mico V. Mozo, Conor Feeney 6th Class Carnaun School

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Note from the teacher!

We hope that this will be a regular column for us where we will let you know how we get on with the gardening throughout the school year. Remember it is not all success but we can take the good with the bad.

Like many schools, we had an environmentally friendly type of school garden over the years but it was not until we got our Organic Symbol that we began to realise how important it was to do things in this way and now organic gardening is a way of life with us and is part of the Science curriculum.

Organic Gardening is fun for the children and ideal as a base for lots of practical science projects from seed and soil testing to conditions suitable for the growth of healthy food to some of the high profile and fun projects we have recently been successful with such as ‘Cooking in the compost bin ‘Ultra Voilet Rays’, and their effect on people in the west of Ireland’ to this year’s one ‘Could we heat the Green House, School or home with Solar energy’?

Projects on The Wildlife Pond, Wildflower Meadow and Bird Garden have been a source of wonder and awe to the children sine their installation. All these projects and lots more are feasible to children in ‘the room outside’ meaning / excitement / importance when they are done ob an organic basis.

Jamie Oliver is raising awareness of healthy eating in schools in England – nutrition is an important part of our living – the tide is turning and we should not be left behind. Rather than trying to enforce different eating rules and habits in our schools who not through science programmes show the way to organic goodness and the healthy eating habits will follow.

Contrary to popular belief we do not spend all our time in the garden – most of the time it is a quick in and out again. Preparation is important so that the time outside is not wasted. We do not have a regular caretaker so every plant is sowed by the children and they have responsibility for the the school yard – so its their garden and their vegetables.

In the summertime the garden is neglected to a certain extent as everyone is away or very busy and that can’t be helped but a lot of the food can be harvested before the holidays if the seeds are ‘brought on’ in a tunnel. Many of our pupils, as a result of what they are learning in school, have a little organic plot at home. Now that’s Success!

Soon they will be as adults demanding organic food from the local green grocer and organic food will be readily available with popular demand.

Records of the work done are kept in the children’s display folders or on our website (Carnaun School Project – ATHENRY.ORG) and like all other subjects in the curriculum evaluation is a necessary part of our planning.

Our email is carnaun.ias@eircom and we will be happy to answer any queries you have on the subject, if we are able.

Finbar O’Regan, Principal teacher, Carnaun School, Athenry

Editor’s note: This article was, one of many ,written in Carnaun School, Athenry, from 2006 onwards, for IOFGA’s Organic Matters Magazine, Editor Cáit Curran!

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About this record

Written by 6th class Carnaun School

Published here 19 Feb 2024 and originally published June 2005

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