Parent Volunteer helper at Our Flower Patch Primary school garden group

Did you know that it's Volunteer Week? Neither did we but as the website says it's about time we celebrated the hundreds of volunteers who give up their time, week in week out to make life a little bit better for someone else, unrewarded, and often unnoticed. Volunteers really hit the headlines during the 2012 Olympics when the success of the games was deemed to have been determined by the thousands of volunteer 'Games Makers'. Primary schools are masters at finding jobs for volunteer parents and grandparents to do. Every week dozens of parents pop in for an hour or two to listen to readers, run cooking sessions, accompany trips, ferry pupils to sports fixtures and help with the school garden. And so in the spirit celebrating unsung heroes this week, I am giving a big thumbs up to Sally, who has helped with the garden at Fitz for years. 

Here she is pictured above holding a packet of poppy seeds designed by a little boy who believed his efforts were 'rubbish' but who, with Sally's encouragement, was the first to make a sale. When we started running our 'extreme gardening' sessions on a shoestring, with dozens of children, in a 20 minute slot at lunchtime she admitted to knowing nothing about gardening. What Sally neglected to say was that any lack of experience or knowledge was more than compensated for by an abundance of gardening talent, skill and creativity. In fact, it wasn't long before she was planting up a veg patch at home and scouring Wilkinsons, Lidl and Aldi for bargains to pop into the borders or plant in a hanging basket at school. 

Every school flowerpatch needs more than one enthusiastic adult to make it work. School gardens are much more successful when parents are interested and involved and it is a good idea to involve them from the start in planning and discussing the garden. Gather a team around you to share the work and responsibilities. Have regular meetings to share ideas and observations about how the garden is progressing.This will build commitment, spread the workload, help you to avoid mistakes, and stimulate interest in the school’s activities. Make it fun and sociable. Saturday working parties to clear weeds, dig over a new patch or building raised beds are perfect opportunities for sharing food and ideas. Before you know it, your school flower patch will have resulted in new friendships and a stronger school community. It all relies on volunteers like Sally who are prepared to share their time and expertise.

Thanks Sally. We couldn't have done it without you. But at least we can say thankyou with beautiful flowers this year.