At Northwood Primary School’s allotment are, from left, Sam Cumpsty, 11, Ellen Wood, 11, Millie Cumpsty, five, Pam Toms, Emily Searle, 11, Finlay Grant, 11, Sarah Hussey and Lauren Hill, 11.
GARDENING NOW I know there are lots of schools around the Island with flourishing gardening clubs but I pick on one in particular because its children won accolades at the recent Chale Show.
They included a cup almost as big the pupils who won it, plus the gold award for the best school project of the year and £50 to boot.
The youngsters at Northwood Primary School, who contributed to the equivalent of gold at the Island’s 'horticultural Olympics’ at Chale, included nine pupils who have now left for secondary school down the road and their gardening guru wanted to pay tribute to their efforts.
But, despite leaving, they remain keen as mustard, to such a degree they have been allowed by the headteacher Sarah Hussey to continue coming into the school during the long summer break to tend their plots.
"Once they get the bug there’s no stopping them," said Pam Toms, who first fell in love with the school and its pupils three years ago when she first went in to listen to the children read to her.
Then she learned the lady who was running the lunchtime gardening club was leaving and Pam’s name was put forward as the new gardening club leader.
And now the gardening club is one of those examples of successful sustainability.
"This year, all the children had their own beds with signs they had painted themselves during the rainy season we’ve just had," said Pam.
And they raised money for new raised beds — made by Pam’s husband, Derek — by selling the veg from the garden to teachers, dinner ladies and neighbours, last year raising £625 to have electricity in the garden shed, which is now carpeted and has a heater too.
The children are little different to adult gardeners in that they hate weeding so if they weed one day they get to plant, sow or sweep the next.
The result has been all manner of successfully grown veg, including shallots, which Pam has pickled for the Christmas fair.
Mint sauce has come from some of the produce in the large herb garden. It will also be sold to raise further funds to keep the garden growing.
There was an expanding list of new blood before the school holidays to add to the three 'old stagers’, who will be in their fifth gardening club year and able to pass on their experience to the newbies.
This year has not been the easiest for Pam, who has battled through after a right knee replacement, but she has been much heartened by the support she has received from her young charges.
Pam is now looking forward to the start of the new academic year, the new harvest of green-fingered talent and next year’s competitions.
"Quite simply, I love them all and I love my job," she said.