Each year the RHS Malvern Spring Festival hosts School Gardens, which offers school children an opportunity to get involved with gardening. BAM has been involved from its outset almost ten years ago.
In 2007, our Midlands Education Co-ordinator, Phil Eves, came up with the idea of schools designing and building gardens in competition with each other. We asked the show's organisers if we could display them at RHS Malvern Spring Festival and in 2007, the School Gardens were born.
The event has since grown into its own competition category - the RHS School Garden Award. We now regularly see over 10 schools take part, many of them returning year after year.
Our Midlands Education Co-ordinator came up with the idea of
schools building gardens in competition with each other
Growing more than just gardens
Each year the School Gardens take on an educational theme, ranging from Remembrance Day, to books, to science and in 2017, the theme was space.
The School Garden competition has developed over the years aiming to support school curriculums. The schools start to design their gardens in September at the beginning of the new school year, enabling the year’s theme to become embedded throughout the curriculum and allow staff to plan their lessons.
We then host a special workshop session at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern giving new and existing schools the opportunity to meet the Schools Garden's ambassador and ex-Blue Peter Gardener, Chris Collins. They are able to discuss plants and their roles within the garden, and also go through the logistics of their designs as each school is required to assess their methods, designs and buildability.
The whole design process is heavily linked with art, design and technology. Students have to research costs and work to a budget, which supports maths, while designing the advertising for their gardens develops literacy and ICT skills. Risk assessments must be carried out and workshops are hosted to assess their programmes. Throughout the whole process they have to research, solve problems and plan.
The School Garden competition has developed
over the years, aiming to support school curriculums
We have seen some of these young people go into design and construction careers. One student decided to continue her construction studies before going on to study a degree in Archaeology. Other students have been taken on as apprentice bricklayers and carpenters, and our sister company BAM Nuttall has taken on one student as an apprentice civil engineer.
Young people involved have since
gone into design and construction careers
BAM’s Team TIME success
Over the 11 years, BAM staff from across all business units have volunteered their time to help create these gardens. Since it first started in 2007, 101 schools have entered the challenge and the School Gardens have been seen by over one million visitors. In total, BAM has donated over £12,000 in materials and volunteering time.
We also provide the brochures for the School Gardens Awards, which are sold at the show to raise money for CRASH, the construction industry’s charity tackling homelessness.
BAM staff from across all businesses have volunteers their time
All the gardens are created to the highest standards and over the years they have been judged against various awards: the RHS Malvern School Garden Awards, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) Awards and our own BAM Show Award, which aims to award sustainability and project management skills throughout the build.
One of our 2015 gardens, the Henri le Worm Community Garden, aimed to teach children about where food comes from. This garden was so successful that we were asked to recreate it at the Hampton Court Flower Show, where Chef Raymond Blanc gave live cooking demonstrations inside. It received a Bronze Show Garden Award and after the show it was dismantled and relocated to a working farm in Charlton, London, where schools now use it to teach sciences, maths, cooking and gardening as part of the Community Garden Project. A mini Henri le Worm garden was also recreated at Haslucks Green Primary School, where it helps teach the children about sustainability and food.
The 2015 Henri le Worm Community
Garden was recreated at Hampton Court Flower Show