St Luke's Primary School, Brighton

St Luke’s Primary School in Brighton recently celebrated the first harvest from its edible forest garden which appeared on their school grounds in March 2009. In an area with very small gardens, and a school with very little green space, gardeners and landscapers worked with staff, children and parents to come up with the idea of digging up an area about 12x20m of tarmac and replacing it with a beautiful, sustainable garden based on permaculture principles, irrigated with rain water harvested from the roof and collected in re-used containers, with paths made from recycled old trainers, and lots of unusual, local, and heritage varieties to get people’s interest. Weeds are suppressed and water retained by a mulch of old newspaper and unwanted chip from tree surgeons.

Over the course of the year, the children have planted all manner of fruit trees, bushes, herbs and perennial vegetables. In the annual vegetable patch, Year 4 took over and cultivated it for their Global Gardens project.  At the end of September, the schools’ gardening club and Year 5 children came and harvested pumpkins, Chinese and globe artichokes, pears and herbs of all descriptions.  Each of the school’s 600 or so pupils had the chance to come down to see and sample the harvest, with many developing a new passion for lemony-leaved sorrel!  After school, staff, parents and children had the chance to buy the produce for bargain prices.  The day was a great success, and everyone’s looking forward to next year when the fruit should be coming thick and fast!