The students from St. Aidan’s National School in Enniscorthy are announced as the GIY and innocent drinks ‘Big Grow’ Champions 2019. Mr Foley’s senior infant class attended the Bloom festival where they were presented with their award.
56,000 school children from schools nationwide took part in the seventh annual Big Grow initiative, which enabled the primary school children to learn how to grow their own food in their classrooms.
The teacher of the winning class, Mr Foley said; “The boys and girls in my senior infant class really engaged with this initiative, taking care of the plants, rushing in to make sure the soil was moist enough. They were demanding photos with their plants.
“You can tell, read or show a child where vegetables come from, but growing it themselves is the only way to actually grasp the concept. We smelled the plants daily (peppery cress smell) and I planted some in a clear container so we could see the roots growing.
“Many kids were shocked when I ate a stem of cress straight from the pot (“You can’t be eating flowers!”), they were happy to try their own cress and pea shoots when they were ready. One boy managed to eat all of his cress walking from our classroom to the main door, having nothing left in his pot to show his father when he was collected at home-time.
“Even though we finished this weeks ago, one girl brought back in her cress to show us. It had grown twice as tall as when it left and it had begun to flower too, teaching both the children and me that cress can flower. It is such a positive experience every year.
“This was the children’s first edible growing project. They were surprised that they could eat something that grows from seed as they have only seen flowers grow before now.
“Going forward, it would be nice for the kids to do a longer-term growth for a more substantial edible plant as they go into higher classes. I will definitely continue to grow seeds yearly as it is an invaluable learning tool for senior Infants.”
Presenting the award to the class, founder of GIY Michael Kelly said; “The 21 pupils from St. Aidan’s demonstrated brilliant engagement with this project, from the very beginning their enthusiasm for growing their own food was evident through the posts and content the class shared on their grow wall.
“Their teacher tells us that they were surprised that they could eat something that grows from a seed and that is the essence of this initiative and why it is so successful, we are delighted to be able to ensure this invaluable learning experience for children all across the country every year. ”
Laura O’Connell, Digital and Communities Manager at innocent drinks Ireland said; “We were so impressed with everyone who took part in The Big Grow this year. It is something that we’re really proud to bring to schools all over the country each year. Seeing and hearing all the positive effects that growing in the classroom has on school kids is something really special. We want to continue to keep Ireland Growing in years to come”