Pitstone Allotments were delighted to host two highly successful visits by students from the PACE Centre based in Aylesbury, which helps children and young people with motor disorders such as cerebral palsy.
The visits were arranged by our Allotment Association Committee during June and July, to enable the students to have full on sensory experience and to find out about the different ways of growing fruit and vegetables to eat .
Our site was perfect for a visit due to the less able access we have introduced throughout, and all the students managed to negotiate our new track in their motorised wheelchairs, even doing a bit of ‘off roading’ at times.
During the first visit Rob set up an observation bee hive in the car park at the side of the track under a canopy. This was the perfect place as it gave the students something to look at, listen to and talk about while they were waiting for their fellow students to get off the mini bus.
Pupils and staff, slowly wondered round the track stopping whenever they felt like it to listen to the birdsong and bees, admire plot holders crops and Geoff’s snails, and to ask many questions along the way. The chickens were very popular and the 36 hr old Jubilee Orpington chicks even put in a brief appearance.
Marge and Gill did a fantastic job supervising planting beans and lettuce, and unearthing a bag of new potatoes or two which the students were very keen to get stuck into.
We had herbs and sweet peas for them to smell, strawberries and sugar snap peas to taste and broad beans for them to pod. John our site manager set everything up during the morning and walked the site to make sure there were no obvious hazards. At the end of the morning we sent them off with a trolley full of plants and produce, and a mornings worth of lovely memories. We were informed that lessons that afternoon were going to be abandoned and gardening was on the agenda.
During the second visit it was noticed how much more relaxed and confident the students were around us. John had surveyed the site and prepared the raised bed, sorted out tools and plants and even found time to pick two vases of flowers.
Marge and Gill were there to greet each student off the bus and engage with them planting lettuce, French beans, runner beans and Chinese cabbage. The first easy access raised bed we have constructed was the perfect height for the students to come along side and get stuck into planting.
Rob was the rhubarb king, sharing his crop around with all. Even going back for another arm full when a student requested she’d like a bit more. This was a massive step forward for her as she finds it extremely difficult to interact with people she is not familiar with.
All moved round the site at a more leisurely relaxed pace this week splitting off naturally into small groups. Two of our plot holders Ingrid and Terry kindly offered their crops for students to harvest from their plots, which was very kind as crops were easily accessible from the track. Around the corner we looked at the different stages of how a wormery works, and inside the different layers and of course the worm ‘tea’ on tap at the bottom.
John and Julie’s Jubilee Orpington chicks were big enough to go out trackside for the second visit in a small run with their mum and as promised the students came back this visit with two names for them which absolutely delighted Marge, ‘ Egg Sheran’ and ‘Reginald Fluffy’.
With a bit of skilled driving strawberries were harvested from hanging baskets and surprisingly they managed to find enough to fill a small punnet. We had a repeat of the last visit harvesting potatoes from bags and shelling broad beans. One of the students is very partially sighted so listening to the sound of the pea pods popping and feeling around for the peas was a delight to witness. The visit ended with Rob planting radish seeds in pots for them to take away with the trolley load of produce we provided for them.
Just before getting on the bus to return to school the class teacher informed Julie that she’d been with PACE for thirteen years and in all that time had never been made to feel as welcome anywhere as they have at our allotment site. So once again thanks to all involved. You made two very special mornings that will remembered by the staff and students for a long time to come.
We look forward to welcoming them back soon.