The first Harvest Festival of hopefully many more to come in Trinity Academy took place on the 23rd June this year. It has been over a month since the event and yet I still feel happy and inspired when I reminiscence over the enthusiasm of my pupils and the joy and attention with which they shared their gardening knowledge with their friends and family.
We made presentations and posters and rehearsed our talks during the week leading up to our big event. We each chose topics we feel particularly passionate about and were proud to present them. I was so happy to see the Gardening Club members confidently speaking in front of a room full of people – and not only did they spoke, they also engaged their audience, asked questions and gave food for thought.
In the last few months, I have tried to make our Gardening Club both educational and fun – we learned a lot together, but we also laughed and felt the exhilarating thrill of our achievement – a bountiful harvest! We kicked off the Festival with a video giving a bit of background to our goals and who we are, followed by a presentation by myself. I am currently writing this in Australia, in anticipation of starting a new job as an ecology field assistant, and it would not have felt right to leave Edinburgh behind if it hadn’t been for Gardening Club. Life in academia changes frequently and one moves around the world a lot – which of course has its advantages and disadvantages, but somehow leaving is easier knowing that I have left behind a flourishing garden. And a team of enthusiastic young people and teachers willing to continue and further my efforts.
My presentation was followed by those from Eilidh and Ben, who both did a wonderful job. Afterwards, Cleo read her beautiful essay on pollinators, which I will publish here later. It felt so good to see how much the pupils have learned – not only about agriculture and ecology, but also about how to engage the public in science communication, how to lead discussions and share opinions – a set of skills they will undoubtedly use whichever career path they take.
Once our guests were all acquainted with our project, we all walked to the allotment together to see our garden. Ben masterfully led the tour, describing the many different species we have planted and their roles within the allotment – some attract beneficial insects such as pollinators, others deter pests, some are just plain tasty! We then harvested two crates full of salad greens – lettuces, mustard and rocket.
Back at the school, we gave our guests the chance to try all the herbs we are growing – dill, parsley, chervil, oregano, thyme, mint, bronze fennel, sage and pineapple sage (which indeed smells like a pineapple!). We chatted and talked about Gardening Club, treated ourselves to tea and biscuits, and then held a special awards ceremony for our very deserving pupils. We all went home carrying a bag of salad greens and herbs, but more importantly, we were all inspired and excited to continue growing and maintaining Gardening Club.