Green fingers at St Oswald's

Youngsters at St Oswald’s CE Primary School in York have been getting in touch with nature at their lunchtime gardening club.

Facilities Officer Martin Abley, who ensures the smooth running and maintenance of the school, set the group up to encourage green-fingered pupils to grow, weed, water and build bird boxes.

Each day, an average of 15 children attend the club, nurturing their love of gardening and encouraging wildlife into their very own allotment.

Martin, who also runs the school rugby club and is a member of the Friends of St Oswald’s Primary School committee, said: “The gardening club has been running for a few years.

“I found an old pallet and the children have been making bird boxes from it. I have a notice board outside my office where we put pictures from the garden.

“I have built benches and raised beds, and grow onions and potatoes so the children can dig them up.

“We have been at the school for almost 10 years and it’s great to get the children involved. I just see this as an addition to what I do. It’s like a big family here.”

The school committee recently organised a barbecue, bouncy castle and tombola, raising £899. Some of the money will help to keep the gardening club running.

Year 4 pupil Grace Green, 9, said: “We have been making bird boxes for different birds, weeding watering plants and planting. I really enjoy it.”

Year 3 pupil Honey Warner, 8, said: “We fill the bird bath up. But my favourite part of the gardening club is picking raspberries and eating them. Gardening is really good fun.”

The club was recognised in a gardening competition run by City of York Council, finishing third in the ‘Homegrown’ category last year and receiving praise for its ‘bug hotel’ and butts to save on water. Bird feeders have also been added to encourage Finches.

Martin said: “One of the children, Sean Menzies, who is now 16, has gone onto agricultural college and recently featured on Gardener’s World in Scotland. He started off in the club.

“I remember he used to love cutting the grass. It’s brilliant to see what he is achieving.”