HS2 has launched Growing Spaces, a community engagement project to build mini allotments, vegetable growing boxes, and create new planted areas for primary schools and Chipping Warden School was one of the first to take part.
The Growing Spaces project is part of HS2’s commitment to tailored community engagement projects and creating a Green Corridor alongside the railway.
As part of this project, HS2 is providing workshops and facilities where local pupils can grow fresh produce, and learn about the benefits of healthy eating and nutrition.
To implement this, HS2 is working with a small social enterprise called Growing Ideas set up by a science teacher and engagement specialist, with the goal to deliver engagement and educational sessions in schools.
The focus of the Growing Spaces project is to teach the importance of nutrition as well as the practical skills, and science behind growing fruit and vegetables.
Ten pilot schools have been invited to take part due to their proximity to the construction of Phase One of the railway. The project begins with a visit to the school to hand build the growing boxes on site; this ensures that they are the required size and in the right location.
The Growing Ideas team then undertakes an additional day with the pupils where they will work to fill the boxes with soil, and plant the seeds and saplings that will begin the cultivation of the fruit and vegetables.
The pupils learn through interactive activities about how plants grow, how to maintain them, and the importance of nutrition in their diet.
HS2’s community engagement manager Nisha Mejer said: “As part of our commitment to being a good neighbour to communities affected by HS2 we have developed this project to be fun, educational, and inclusive.
“Our Growing Spaces work will continue throughout 2019, and we will continue to support the schools involved to create their allotments, see what grows, and we are looking forward to seeing how the children have enjoyed the process.”
The installation of allotments marks the first of three stages of activity for the Growing Spaces scheme. The next phase which will happen in the spring and will see the Growing Spaces team working with the schools to use upcycled materials to create a ‘green wall’ for an area within the schools’ outdoor spaces.
This will be followed by the schools and pupils coming together to develop a recipe booklet made up of healthy meals they have learned about through the Growing Spaces scheme. These recipes will be based on the food that they have grown themselves in their mini allotments.
HS2 aims to roll out the scheme to other schools along the route and continue the ongoing engagement with local communities.