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Everything's lovely in Katie's Halesworth garden!

PUBLISHED: 10:38 29 October 2010

A SCHEME which has introduced children to gardening and growing is proving a big success in Halesworth.

So popular is the Grow For It! project, based at the Edgar Sewter Primary School, that 70 children, both from the school and elsewhere in the community, are now involved – and there is a waiting list.

And a group of around 20 adults are also giving their time to help.

The gardens at the school were shown to the wider public at a recent open day, and, despite rain, it was well attended by more than 70 people interested in supporting it. The project is being led by Katie Burge, who schooled her own children and for whom the garden was a classroom. And now others in Halesworth are benefiting from her expertise and enthusiasm.

“I am teaching children to garden and the children have blossomed themselves while they are in the garden,” she said.

“They are wonderstruck by the simplest things. They see the wonder of nature and see how things grow.”

Flowers, fruit, vegetables, herbs and many other items have now been nurtured there, and a polytunnel has been built and is being prepared for more planting.

The busy autumn period is seeing the gardens cleared and replanted by the enthusiastic children, some of whom are disabled.

Some of the gardens have been constructed specially as raised gardens so they can reach the beds comfortably.

Katie got involved after meeting Don Nicholls, of the United Reformed Church in Halesworth, who had started a small gardening club with four small plots as a community venture. “I was looking for a school that needed a gardening project, and he was looking for someone to take his over,” she said.

After applying for a Local Food initiative, she heard in March she had been granted £9,440 and a section of the school playing field was turned into a productive area, with town councilor Tony Goldman giving a lot of help.

“The ethos is to get older, retired gardeners working alongside the younger generation outside in the fresh air, to get families gardening together, and to improve the diets of people round here,” said Katie, who moved to England from North America 25 years ago, and lives in Chediston.

“The aim was to create a garden with 50 square metre patches where children could grow their own produce, and eight large community beds where 125 people a year could do their own planting and rotational growing.

“Currently there are 70 children involved, with a waiting list, and the number of others involved will grow as the project progresses.”

Seven families comprising 20 people in all are involved and Katie said that was just a start, with 15 people from the community helping from time to time.

“Gardening in schools is becoming the thing to do. Several local schools have had funding, but Grow for It! is a separate thing.

“And I envisage I can help other schools with projects in the future,” she said.

At the open day, Rick Staines, Radio Suffolk’s gardening expert, held a question time for visitors.

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