Project to build school farm at Great Walstead

Mr Dutton with the first chickens

Mr Dutton with the first chickens - Credit: Archant

This summer a project was started to build a school farm on the site of the walled Victorian kitchen garden deep in the woods of Great Walstead.

This was based around a plan written by the Scholars of 2016, using sustainable and organic methods as well as aspects of permaculture design. The site was overgrown and unmanaged, with the exception of a small area used for gardening club. It was a long way from its original First World War era splendour. After a few days of clearing away mountains of brambles and nettles, glimpses of its grandeur started to appear, firstly with a brick built pig sty. Hacking away decades of ivy growth really did show the workmanship that had gone into the magnificent walls.

Two orphan lambs have sinced moved in to the farm, along with two Kune Kune pigs, ten chickens and two ducks. A large shed and polytunnel has been built, both with running water and electrics.

The end goal is to have a thriving vegetable and fruit farm supplying a ‘veg and fruit box’ scheme for parents and teachers. This will not only help to teach children about the importance of good, healthy and sustainable food but also create a small student-led business, utilising this asset and getting students outside and thinking about where their food comes from.

On 16 October the school launched their Hurricane Day Orchard Appeal. Each year the school marks the Great Storm of 1987 - when a large number of trees were lost in Great Walstead’s woods - by planting a tree. This year they also wanted to raise money to help those whose lives were so badly affected in Haiti, following Hurricane Matthew. Parents were asked to sponsor trees bought for the orchard with £10 of every donation going to the Haiti relief effort. The orchard now has many different local varieties of apple and pear as well as several types of cherry, medlar, plum, damson and greengage.