Wheelbarrow Workshops explained
We set up the Wheelbarrow Workshops for primary schools in Autumn 2007 in response to feedback from teaching staff who were keen to have some practical support to get growing started in their schools. On average we now visit 60 primary schools a year across the county both urban and rural, with or without existing gardening activities. They are well received both by those schools who repeat book or who we only visit once and there are now many thousands of children who have all learnt how to make and plant a paper pot.
Our Mrs Wheelbarrows are all volunteers and are CRB tested. They all have experience with children either as teachers or parent helpers in schools as well as extensive horticultural experience both professional and amateur. They lead the workshops with great enthusiasm and are encouraging and fun. The children pick up on this and seem to really enjoy the workshops. One Year 6 boy spontaneously said after one of the workshops "thank you, this has been such fun".
The content of the workshop covers different propagation techniques and there are five main activities to a session when the children work in pairs. Some of these run throughout the year like sprouting pulses in water, growing speedy seeds in very shallow compost or deeper trays for salad leaves. Others are seasonal and in the spring we bring potatoes to chit and plant and add broad beans and peas. In summer we sow tomatoes and transplant seedlings as well as adding beans and pumpkins for the patient. In the autumn we make a classroom composter which is always fun but at the end of every workshop everyone gets taught how to make a paper pot and plant a seed which can go home or kept to be transplanted at school.
Many of the teachers have commented on how well the workshop fits in with KS2 topics on germination and plant parts. It also includes a number of literacy and numeracy skills. We take note of the evaluation forms which the schools fill in to make sure we are meeting expectation and try to include any suggestions to improve the workshops.
The Wheelbarrow Workshops were replaced in 2015 by the HGT Mrs Wheelbarrow Grants.