53 Field Squadron Royal Engineers help Dallas Primary School erect a Polycrub for their growing garden
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THE ARMY has helped a village school add a growing centrepiece to their learning garden.
Pupils at Dallas Primary enlisted the assistance of a school parent and some of his fellow 53 Field Squadron Royal Engineers in erecting a polytunnel and fencing on nearby land gifted to the school by Dallas Estates.
Head teacher, Mrs Mairi Grant, said: “One of our dads, an engineer from Kinloss, proposed that the Army could build it as a community project. They completed the task free of charge - we just had to provide the materials ... and their lunch!”
Dallas Primary has had a productive school garden for years, growing fruit and vegetables, but now aims to fully integrate gardening with the curriculum.
At the end of the 2020/21 school year, they applied for an Education Scotland ‘Food for Thought’ grant. Dallas Estates then gifted land suitable to erect a Polycrub with the eventual aim of creating a community garden.
The ground was cleared and levelled then the pupils raised sponsorship for fencing and raised beds.
The children also researched what will grow best and conducted surveys on their favourite seasonal vegetables.
Polycrubs are robust and durable - a twin-wall polycarbonate sheet is tensioned against a polyethylene hoop under tension. This acts like a large spring which distributes the forces all along its structure.
They are constructed in strict accordance with notes and drawings provided with each materials kit so must be constructed by suitably skilled people.
“The Polycrub will be central to a three year cycle of learning about growing and cooking” said Mrs Grant. “The children are still deciding what they would like to grow and have created an online survey to help them decide. The produce will be available for families in the village by donation and we will also sell some in the weekly farm shop to help sustain our garden.”
The Polycrub is large enough for a small class’ activities. Raised beds inside will soon have seating shelves.
It is hoped that the school will start a gardening club and be able to offer increased outdoor learning opportunities.
The garden will also eventually have benches and sensory areas including a pond, water features, herbs and more for the wider community to enjoy.
Mrs Grant added: “We would also like to grow flowers to help biodiversity.
“The pupils met with Mrs Houldsworth from Dallas Estates to share their ideas. Edinvale Farm helped prepare the land. We also have a farm visit planned to learn about organic growing.”