School Gardens

My first experience of teaching was in the garden I developed with another mum in my son’s National School in County Louth. Our 3 boys were all in our local National School and I thought it might be a nice idea to start a school garden. The principal was very supportive and I naively decided to get all the classes in school to start growing something, not realising what a task I was taking on. That idea turned into an 8 year long growing project. The school ended up with a vegetable garden, a herb garden, a sensory garden and a huge living willow sculpture based on the head of the Brown Bull of Cooley! Every class in the school over those 8 years got to grow something, either in their classrooms or in the garden outside. It was a wonderful success. The children loved it, especially getting outside to sow seeds, plant and harvest their crops every year. I realised that as well as the actual gardening part, I loved the teaching part. That was the start of my venture into teaching children and then adults how to grow their own food.

Harvesting the carrots for Home Economics Class

 

 

TY Modules for Secondary School

I now coordinate TY modules in 3 secondary schools in Dundalk and also work with Gaelscoil Dhún Dealgan National School on their school garden every year. In St. Vincents Secondary School, the Grow Your Own module is run as part of Home Economics for 4-5 weeks in the Spring and Autumn terms and all the crops grown are used in Home Economics class.

In Dundalk Grammar School, the module runs every week throughout the school year and the crops are sold in school. We also have an enterprise element to the module where the students run a mini company producing plants, seeds and food products for sale at the various School Trade Fairs over the year.

In St. Mary’s College, the new Horticulture Module for TY started in autumn 2021 and takes place twice a week, using the  new school polytunnels and raised beds.  The sowing and growing of our crops is a central part of what we do in school, but the module includes many topics that are of huge importance in the world we live in today, such as ; where our food comes from and how it is grown, the organic system, how modern agricultural impacts the environment, seed saving and seed sovereignty, biodiversity loss and enhancement, soil health and erosion.

The Heritage In Schools Scheme

The Heritage Council runs the Heritage in Schools Scheme nationwide.  A school can apply to have a Heritage Expert come into your primary school to work with students and teachers on a wide range of heritage topics. The Scheme supports the stated aims and objectives of the Social, Scientific and Environmental Education (SESE) curriculum and provides an additional educational tool and resourse for teachers. 

As a Heritage Expert under the Scheme, I can come into your school to work with you and your students on developing an organic school garden, planting native trees, growing herbs, sowing a wildflower patch, enhancing biodiversity, building composting areas and much more.  Each visit is part funded by both the school and the Heritage Council. Click on the link below for more information on how the scheme works.

http://www.heritageinschools.ie/heritage-expert/profile/roisin-cotter