Feeling calm, happy and filled with joy

The community garden at Wicor Primary School in Hampshire has been opening for the National Garden Scheme since 2013, inspiring pupils, staff, visitors and volunteers alike. We caught up with Louise Moreton, Horticulturalist (and National Garden Scheme volunteer) to find out how it’s all growing…

“Our beautiful, nurturing haven for wildlife, fun and learning continues to thrive and flourish,” says Louise. “In its fifteenth year our school garden, wrapped around the whole of the school building, is maturing and developing to meet the needs of the large presence of wildlife and the growing amount of time our pupils spend outside connecting with nature.”

The incredible team of volunteers has grown rapidly since Covid with so many appreciating the creative, safe space amongst nature that Wicor offers. Feelings of purpose, being grounded, and being part of something useful to others are comments often made. As part of a primary school the bonus of intergenerational gardening and being able to pass on skills in danger of being lost to future, creates deeper opportunities for learning, respect and connecting with others.

“During the last three years we have increased our orchard space with the addition of an ancient and heritage orchard totalling over 50 more fruit trees. Orchards are a haven for biodiversity offering food and shelter for thousands of species. They also create a good harvest of fruit which pupils love to watch growing, tasting and cooking. Each year we add at least 200 young tree whips that form wonderful hedgerows.”

With bumper apple harvests the team have created a local community pick and collection service, found a local business to squish, pasteurise and bottle the fruit juice for them to sell with profits going back into the garden. Their pupil-led business enterprises using produce from around the school grounds have grown so much that they have been awarded a grant to open their own little shop called ‘The Trug’. This has been a popular spot for the local community to meet and buy locally grown/made products. For some, this may be the only conversation they have had for a day.

“Being pesticide and herbicide-free for over a decade has produced a rich invertebrate population that has drawn in the birds. Our grounds constantly echo with birdsong from chattering house sparrows to the scathing laugh of the green woodpecker. Our grounds are alive – literally – and nature in its many guises lays healing hands upon us all.”

You can discover the joy of Wicor Primary School Community Garden in Hampshire when it opens for the National Garden Scheme on Sunday 23 June
For more details CLICK HERE

Read on to see what people think of the community garden …

“Gardening makes me feel relaxed and happy.”
Jasmina – a new Polish pupil learning English

“I really like gardening here; I have learnt so much. Now I garden for my aunt, my neighbours, and mummy’s friends. The things I have learnt here help other people.” 
Henry – a pupil since year R with a passion for gardening

“Gardening makes all of the bad things go out of my head. It makes me release all of my anger.”
Adanna – a new starter

“Gardening makes me feel calm, happy and filled with joy. At my old school we had nothing like this, we would grow a plant for the year and that was it. At Wicor it feels different in a good way, the garden makes me feel so welcome.”
Junior – a new starter

“The enthusiasm of the children, and the friendship and camaraderie of the volunteers cannot fail to lift the spirits – I am certain that this made a huge contribution to my positive experience of prostate cancer in 2017. Who needs medication or the gym when you have Wicor!”
David Harrison – volunteer


You can discover the joy of Wicor Primary School Community Garden in Hampshire when it opens for the National Garden Scheme on Sunday 23 June
For more details CLICK HERE

This story originally appeared in the 2024 Little Yellow Book of Gardens and Health, marking Gardens & Health Week, which you can view here

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