This week marked an important moment for the garden site as the digging stopped and new preparations began. As we arrived at the garden site in the September sunshine, we were confronted by seven huge bags of bark to be transferred onto the site. We suddenly realised that this was going to be a labour-intensive session!
The first task was to lay membrane on the site before spreading the bark. Students showed some great teamwork as they tried to solve the puzzle of placing the lining over their constructed garden shape. Large boulders found nearby were used to weigh the lining down and students took turns to cut the material to fit the site perfectly.
We then set to work on spreading the bark across the site. Students (and Mr Healey) worked with their hands, feet, spades, forks, and a wheelbarrow to distribute the bark. A great amount of initiative was used by the group and a lot of hard work was undertaken. Teamwork was essential and a system of tipping the bags was devised which required a whole group effort!
A great sense of accomplishment was felt by the group at the end of the session and the site is looking transformed. Next week we are turning attention back to building the benches and thinking through the layout of the garden.
Today we were joined by Mr Healey—a tech teacher from Drumchapel—who was covering for an absent Ally. Our session began by chatting about the importance of preparation for any garden site. Next week, we hope to take delivery of the wooden bark for the herb garden and seating area. So, it’s vital that the ground is good and ready!
We spent a good chunk of time levelling and digging the site (which is really quite big now!). We then chatted about using a porous membrane on the exposed soil to prevent any weeds growing through the bark. Ian had brought this from a local garden supplier, and the students had some fun beginning to lay it out. However, it was too windy to get this done today, so we decided we’ll do it next week once the bark is delivered (and can weigh down the membrane).
In the second half of the session, Ian held a workshop for the students on how to build a bench. He started by laying out the wood—from the amazing people at Glasgow Wood Recycling—and challenged the students to think how they would create a bench with the 4 pieces of wood. After a few failed attempts, the puzzle clicked, and the students successfully pieced the bench together! It really was fantastic to see the students come together to build the first bench at the Drumchapel Eco-Garden!
Oh, and the students were much more comfortable holding worms! Ian talked through how these wiggly creatures are nature’s unsung heroes! As ever, there were lots of laughs and good chat, and a real sense of community growing.
Stepping on site in my wellies, one week after beginning work at Drumchapel’s school garden I was amazed at the progress the group had made on preparing the groundwork for the garden. The group have been working incredibly hard and have clearly been putting their newly acquired digging skills to the test.
This week, in the sunshine, we discussed the shape of the garden and worked together to mark out the dimensions of the space. The group decided on a contrast of both straight and curved edges and marked these out carefully using pegs and string.
The hard work of digging continued throughout the session and during the process the group unearthed a number of worms – of very different sizes – that caught their attention. As the group held the worms in their hands, we talked about the vital importance of these creatures for improving and maintaining soil structure. The group noted the need for worms in their garden and carefully placed them back into the ground.
A real sense of community and ownership around the garden is beginning to form in the group and plans are being made by everyone involved. As the digging continues we are making plans for the next stage of building the garden – including the construction of benches and the laying of gravel – in the coming weeks.
Since March, when lockdown in Glasgow began, we have been dreaming about restarting the garden work at Drumchapel High School and last week we were able to begin again! Working with a top team of S4 and S5 pupils, under the guidance of Ally Harris, we began collectively building and imagining the school garden and it is so exciting to finally get started.
Ian began the session by introducing the IGA and the importance of our Arizona partners to the project. We discussed our ideas for the site and the group suggested a range of things that they wanted to include, such as a time capsule buried in the soil. We shared our interests in gardens, particularly growing food, and the group noted that a key desire for a school garden was to support the local community, particularly those in most need. Then we began to dig! The group’s enthusiasm was electric and everyone joined in to prepare the ground for levelling. Pupils worked together digging with spades and using their hands to remove the top layer of grass from the first site. A number of creatures were revealed in the process, causing alarm, intrigue and laughter for many of the group.
This is the beginning of a long-term partnership between Drumchapel and the IGA. Our dream is to build a school garden that supports and sustains a hopeful ecological future for the school and the surrounding community. We can’t wait to continue building this garden together.