Outdoor Learning Project
In the Autumn of 2021, we embarked on a project to develop an area of the school grounds into an Outdoor Learning Area. Once finished, the area will consist of three different zones – a sensory prayer garden area with seating, a raised bed garden that will be used for growing both food and flowers, and an equipped space to run Forest School sessions. We are completing this project with donations and volunteer support from the St Catherine’s community. We will regularly update this page to keep everyone up to date on our progress. A big thank you to everyone who has helped so far!
The project started with a volunteer working party of family and friends of the St Catherine’s community. We had a great turn-out for this day and great progress was made. We cut back the grass, trimmed the trees and shrubs, cleared raised beds, took down broken trellis panels, sanded existing bench seating, removed hand-built mosaics from the fences to repair and found a rowing boat under a tree! Thanks to Morrsions Community Champion for the refreshments, to Bells Gardening for joining us for the day and to a very skilled parent for taking home the mosaics to repair in his own time, we are very grateful. We were also given a huge selection of plants from a local nursery which have been planted along two new flower beds in the sensory Prayer Garden, these will hopefully attract wildlife when the weather warms up again.
This month saw lots of donations. We received over 100 logs from a local company Tree Rangers, these have been used to make our log circle seating and a log pile for fire fuel. We were gifted two lovely bug hotels and these will go in the sensory Prayer Garden. We were donated pallets, fence panels and paving from the local community including Flash Trash Cash Recycling and MW Landscapes. We were also awarded a funding grant from Southover Manor Trust this month which will help enormously.
This month we made a timber store out of the pallets that have been donated, it looks very professional! We also painted the fence and trellis panels encasing the Prayer Garden which look great. Finally, we moved the rowing boat to its new position on a raised bed in the Prayer Garden, it will be sown with wild flowers. We were also awarded another grant this month, this was a grant of gardening tools and equipment. We are now ready to start planting in the spring!
Despite the cold winter weather, jobs still got accomplished this month. A fantastic donation of timber from Littlehampton Lions was greatly received, this will be used to make new raised beds for the kitchen garden and a new timber collar was placed around the existing raised bed with the boat. The shed in the corner of the plot got cleared out and was given a new lease of life with a coat of paint. More donations arrived, a set of pallet collars from a local company called Ferrabryne, these will be made into raised beds. We also received cable reel drums from Flash Trash Recycling and CEF Littlehampton, these have been stripped back and turned into workbench style tables and seating.
February and March 2022
Spring has been a very productive time and the renovation of the area is nearing its completion. Landscaping has been completed in the sensory Prayer Garden, we engaged the skills of MW Landscaping and they used the pavers that were donated. The area looks amazing! The existing seating that was sanded down on the working party day, has been given a protective coat of varnish and is ready to welcome visitors into the Prayer Garden. The raised bed kitchen garden has been created and the beds filled with soil ready to receive their first plants. Many companies and people helped get all this achieved this month including donations from Jewsons, Travis Perkins, Highdown Garden Centre, Littlehampton Lions and friends and family of the St Catherine’s community.
April and May 2022
The whole school pulled together to move two tonnes of soil from the front of the school to the outdoor learning area. Pupils brought buckets from home and rolled up their sleeves. It really did prove the saying that 'many hands make light work.' The Outdoor Learning Area has been busy with Gardening Club starting. We have been planting shrubs in our prayer and sensory garden and daffodil and crocus bulbs for next year, both generously donated by local company Greenwoods. We have sown wild flower seeds in small patches around the area, ready to encourage wildlife, generously donated by the Littlehampton and District Lions. We have also sown and planted a selection of vegetables and flowers in our raised beds, these include beetroot, carrots, lettuce, sprouts, sweetcorn, onions, tomatoes, sunflowers, marigolds and nasturtium. For all our gardening efforts we have been awarded both Level 1 and 2 of the RHS Schools Gardening Awards.
June and July 2022
The garden has truly come into bloom over the summer! The Sensory Prayer Garden has been a rainbow of colour and the raised bed Kitchen Garden has been bountiful. Gardening club have help plant, water and harvest crops of sugar snap peas, beetroots, carrots, salad, herbs, radish and nasturtium. Year 6 have used the kitchen garden for a cooking day during Healthy Week and used the produce to make burritos! We held our first Garden Open Afternoon which was a huge success. We sold our fresh produce and plants, offered refreshments made from our garden (beetroot brownies, carrot cake and herby crackers) as well as giving guided tours. All this activity in the garden has resulted us being awarded Level 3, 4 and 5 of the RHS School Gardening Awards.