A group of apprentices volunteered their time to transform part of a school playing field into a garden after students asked if they could learn to grow their own vegetables and plants.
Twelve young people from Toyota Manufacturing UK’s internal and external apprenticeship spent four days working at Kingsmead School’s site, in Wisgreaves Road, Alvaston.
The apprentices created a seating area, planters and built a polytunnel at the school, which caters for students with behavioral, emotional and social difficulties.
The project, which cost £2,000, was funded by Toyota Manufacturing UK Charitable Trust, which is dedicated to supporting the local community and developing its apprentices’ interpersonal skills in teamwork and leadership.
Now the school will be able to grow vegetables all year round, which will be used by the canteen, sold to the community or donated to a local charity.
Pupils Jake Harrison,16, and Jack Leech, 16, initiated the project after asking staff if their school land could be redeveloped. They canvassed opinion from fellow pupils and staff and helped to design the complete project.
Jake said: “I’ve done gardening before with my grandad and I enjoy it, so I think I will be spending time here after school because it will be fun and relaxing. I’d rather learn to do something practical like this than sit in a classroom.
“We have helped with the project by putting in raised beds, so we are ready to start gardening now.”
The apprentices had to go through a Dragon’s Den-style pitch to secure the funding for the project and they were responsible for planning, budgeting and organising the development.
They spent four days working at the school where they clad an old brick wall with wood to create seating, dug footings for all the tubing and erected the 18ft by 24ft polytunnel.
Apprentice Dan Walker said: “The ground had the remnants of an old building, so before we could do anything we had to remove all the bits of brick, which was a challenge we hadn’t expected.
“We all learned a lot from money and time management and working as team. The weather was against us too – we had one day where it just poured. But we thoroughly enjoyed it and to see how pleased the students were was really rewarding.”
Executive head teacher Sue Bradley said: “We are very grateful to both Toyota and the apprentices for their hard work; the land has been transformed and everyone worked extremely hard to create a garden which will be put to good use by all our students.”
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