Harewood House

    Green-fingered Leeds primary pupils to create new garden at famous Country House

    This term, school children from Brownhill Primary School in Leeds, started a unique gardening project at Harewood House, the award-winning 18th century house and gardens set in the Yorkshire countryside. One of the biggest tourist attractions in the country, there are over 100 acres of Gardens at Harewood, full of variety, with plants from all over the world. The new Learning Garden will be a focussed biodiversity and wildlife garden used for teaching children about the importance of gardening, wildlife, habitats, insects and plants, and the project has been made possible with the support of proceeds from Harewood?s popular volunteer-run Second-hand Bookshop. The group of 8 pupils will visit their garden every two weeks over the school year and will be guided by Harewood?s award-winning Gardens Team, and Harewood?s Head of Learning, Jennifer Brooke who initiated the project. As Harewood?s Head Gardener of eighteen years, Trevor Nicholson explains, ?Education and the environment are key elements in what we do at Harewood. By combining sustainable practice with planting and features to increase biodiversity, the garden will offer a species-rich habitat for a range of garden insects and mammals. It will also provide a unique and rich learning experience for its visitors. The pupils will learn about the plants and wildlife in the Grounds at Harewood, as well as how to maintain and create a garden that can be open to the public. They will also have the chance to take in the rolling landscapes, and shady woodland and lakeside paths.? Harewood?s Head of Learning, Jennifer Brooke has spear-headed many new initiatives at Harewood and received the Sandford Award for Learning in recognition of the achievements of Harewood?s Education and Outreach Department in 2008. Jennifer said, ?The learning offer at Harewood is special because of its ability to offer such a wide range of educational activities for schools. It?s a place for inspiration and we aim to promote the understanding and enjoyment of Harewood as a place of historic and contemporary interest in everything we do. We are delighted to be working on this project, the garden area in the Second-hand Bookshop was an underused space ideal for the school children to learn first-hand the hard work of gardening, and it?s great to see the pupils enjoying Harewood!? Harewood Second-hand Bookshop, where the Learning Garden is based, is run by a team of volunteers and depends entirely on donations. All proceeds help fund educational projects around Harewood House and Gardens and the Bookshop runs events and activities to promote reading to the young and old. Audrey Kingsnorth, a volunteer at Harewood who was instrumental in bringing the Second Hand Book Shop to Harewood added, ?The Bookshop at Harewood has gone from strength to strength and we are so grateful to our supporters who generously donate their unwanted books to fuel this project. Money raised by Bookshop sales has already funded this new Learning Garden, and I hope the project is one of many to come. It?s great for the pupils and for Harewood too as they are learning new skills while also creating a garden for everyone to enjoy.? The pupils have been selected to create and maintain the new Learning Garden at Harewood in partnership with Teach First, an organization which aspires to the vision that no child?s educational success should be limited by their socio-economic background. A significant proportion of the Year 5 children receive free school meals and the group comprises of children who are gifted and talented in Science as well as those who are at risk of becoming disaffected with education. This type of project is really beneficial for the children in that it will help contribute to their wider learning of the natural world, science and the environment, and is an opportunity many of them would not usually get the chance to be involved with. Teach First teacher Catherine Dolan-Willis said: ?I am so thrilled that my pupils have been given the opportunity to take part in this unique project.? It is such a great chance for them to learn new skills and build on their knowledge of plants and wildlife. They are all really enjoying it so far and I look forward to seeing the finished result when the garden is complete! The partnership with Harewood has provided our pupils with a fantastic opportunity to extend their learning in a real life situation. The scope of the project is incredible and fits seamlessly into the school?s ethos. The enthusiasm for learning which it has inspired has the potential to have a life changing effect on our children?s aspirations.? Each child will have a profile on display inside the house for the duration of the project and the opportunity to directly influence the design of the Learning Garden. They will update an online blog via Harewood?s website as well as hold an assembly at their school to share their experiences with their classmates. It is hoped that the children will become ?Gardening Ambassadors? back at school and use their expertise to help launch and maintain the schools allotment and bug mansion.