Pupils put down roots for their allotment

Thropton Village First School pupils Sebastian Sharrocks, Kai Ward-Higgins and Amelia Moss dig in. Picture by Richard Sharrocks
Thropton Village First School pupils Sebastian Sharrocks, Kai Ward-Higgins and Amelia Moss dig in. Picture by Richard Sharrocks

AN area which formed part of a farmer’s field just six months ago has now been transformed into a multi-purpose allotment by a north Northumberland school.

The 300m² area of land adjacent to Thropton First School was identified as a possible community space when a scheme, which now makes access to the school much safer, was conceived.

Headteacher Sue Mclean said “We had an area which was gifted to us by the local landowner and with the help of our friends group, local volunteers, donations and various grants we have been able to realise a dream.

“The allotment provides great learning opportunities for the children and is a much valued and important resource to the school, but just as important is the community involvement.

“We have regular volunteer days when parents and children come along to help with major tasks, a dig and a chat with lots of hot soup on hand, and a number of local people come along at all times to have a potter, meet up with other like-minded folk and have a chat, so in that sense it has really brought some members of the community together which is exactly what it’s all about.”

The allotment layout has been developed independently of any services and boasts a large polytunnel, several raised beds, pathways, composting bins, a solar and wind-powered electrical system run from a small wind turbine and solar panel and a water irrigation system using the polytunnel roof as a collector.

Within the scheme there are some mini-allotments which are to be given free of charge to members of the local community in return for help with tending and watering during the school holiday periods.

John McLean, the school caretaker, said: “We have utilised the whole area including the turning circle which had areas originally intended to be grass. They are currently being transformed into an orchard area with a variety of apple, plum, pear and even greengauges as well as bee and butterfly-friendly areas to encourage insects and help to feed our small bee colony which is soon to be installed.

“I can’t wait until the summer when the area will be transformed into a kaleidoscope of colour. The scheme has meant a lot of hard work for lots of local people but we are sure that it will be worth it in the end.”

The school will be involved in the Roots and Shoots Programme at Alnwick Garden throughout the year, helping to develop the children’s enthusiasm for gardening with many of the ideas being mirrored at the school and making a blueprint for future development.

The grand opening will take place in the summer when the site is fully operational. In the meantime, a plant sale takes place tomorrow from 2pm with a variety of plants and shrubs on offer and proceeds going towards future allotment projects.

And on Saturday, May 26 from 11am till 4pm, there will be a Jubilee celebration with many activities taking place and also a pooled afternoon tea.

The Friends of Thropton First School have invited local businesses and would like everyone to join in.

If you would like to take a mini-allotment contact the school on 01669 620297.