Green-fingered pupils at Littlecoates Primary Academy received a helping hand to create a new mini-orchard. Pupils dug deep to plant fruit trees and floral seeds kindly donated by Grimsby Garden Centre. Littlecoates’ Principal Neville Wilkinson thanked the centre, its owners the NHS mental health services provider NAViGO, and governor Kristina Parker, who works for NAViGO and helped organise the event.
“We really appreciate the efforts that have been made to create a special outdoor place for our children,” he said. “They were really excited about the plans and helping the gardeners. It is wonderful to see them outside enjoying the activity and feels like another step towards normality.”
Year 4’s Tilly had enjoyed her time outdoors. “I planted a fruit tree,” she said. “We had to dig a hole, put it in, move the soil back and then stand on the soil and stamp it down. That was my favourite part. “I also planted a sunflower seed. I am looking forward to it growing really high with a bright yellow flower on it. “We did some weeding and digging which I enjoyed because there were lots of worms. We also got messy!”
The community-focussed garden centre knows more than most about the positive impact of horticulture on both mental and physical health. Its profits go back into its upkeep and into improving mental health services across North East Lincolnshire. The centre encourages individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and people with mental health difficulties to get back into work by offering skills, training and employment opportunities. NAViGO head of commercial services Jo Keen said: “We think young people should have the opportunity to experience nature and have the chance to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers. “We know how beneficial gardening can be for both physical and mental wellbeing – it can be very calming, inclusive, reduce stress and it’s also great to have an understanding of where food comes from. “And as pupils return to the classroom following months of home schooling, we are determined to support young people in getting outside and having some muddy good fun. “We love being part of the local community, we consider ourselves much more than just a garden centre and we hope this is the start of a season’s long friendship.”