Norwood School gardening for health and growth

26 July 2022

Written by: Lambeth Council

Children and young people - Environment - Focus on Norwood - Health and Wellbeing

Students and teachers have worked together to create a new school garden for fresh air and wellbeing.

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Norwood School gardening for health and growth

Norwood School bid successfully for a Gipsy Hill Health and Wellbeing Small Grants funding to develop a space for nurturing healthy plants – and relationships.

Word from the Cabinet

Cllr Jim Dickson, Lambeth Cabinet Member for Healthier Communities, said: “Lambeth Council is delighted to see the success of projects run by local community, voluntary and faith organisations contributing to improving the health and wellbeing in Gipsy Hill. These projects complement the support available at our Gipsy Hill Health and Wellbeing Hub. We look forward to sharing great new ways of supporting people that will benefit other communities in future.”

Children’s environment

Language Teacher David F. planted the seed of the idea and watched interest grow from students, teachers and parents: “I think everybody in education now realises children need the outdoors, need to be in society. Nature got me – and many others – through lockdown  –  so I wanted to create a healthy and safe space for students to garden.

Promoting the garden

“In Autumn 2020 we spent one lunchtime planting flowerbeds with daffodils and tulips to promote the garden. That got students and teachers interested. We built planters using wood from pallets. History teacher Harry got a greenhouse donated. Incredible Edible Lambeth partnered with the school to develop the garden,  leading a garden design workshop and a community build day.

Changed atmosphere

Professional gardener teaches students at Norwood school

Calling in a garden professional to help learning

“During school days, teachers and students are in quite a pressurized environment to complete learning aims …  the garden is the opposite. People coming out of school end up at the garden, and conversations start with students who would run a mile if you said ‘come to gardening club’. Students develop working together as a team on something long-term. 10-15 students got involved as their voluntary part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. On the last day of summer term we harvested all the salads and students and teachers took a Norwood School harvest home to eat.

One student is already interested in a horticulture or gardening career – her Mum said ‘It’s had real benefits on vocation and health’.

Garden-loving students say:

  • ‘I don’t have a garden at home, so I come to the garden in school. I’m interested in insects and bugs.’ – Ephraim (year 7)
  • ‘The garden is a place to get away from the pressure of work and spend time outside for my mental health’ – Izabela (6th former)
  • ‘It’s a place to be with friends at the end of the day.’ – Milo (year 7)

Looking forward

“We have just done a workday where parents and students worked together to develop the garden building planters and benches.   It was great for parents,  students and teachers to come together on a project to improve the school environment.

“We want the garden to be a space where students go if they need space as a result of stress, or away from the classroom. In future, it would be great to grow more food plants reflecting the different backgrounds of students. We did a workshop imagining what the garden could be like – students want not only edible crops, but also a natural space encouraging in wildlife and flora.”

Ruth Hutt, Director of Health at Lambeth Council, said: “The health and wellbeing hub approach was adopted in Gipsy Hill to build on the success of the food hubs when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. We know that health and wellbeing is impacted by a range of issues and we believe innovative community-led projects of the kind we support can have a real impact improving health outcomes”.