An innovative schools project at Scotland’s premier Garden has received a significant boost from the country’s leading independent co-operative society. A £2,500 Scotmid Community Grant to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is now providing funding for around a thousand children from the Edinburgh area to get out of the classroom and learn more about the natural world.
As part of RBGE’s curriculum-linked Schools Programme, children and their teachers are getting stuck-in to some fun practical experience with a range of activities linked to guardianship of small plots where they sow vegetable seeds, tend to the plants and harvest them. Then, their endeavours are rewarded by cooking and eating the produce. In accordance with RBGE’s core work, throughout the programme, the children also learn the basics of plant science, the importance of healthy living and are encouraged cultivate a respect for the natural world.
Explaining the importance of such a grant, RBGE Fundraising Officer James Salomons said: “Many children in the area do not have access to a garden in which to learn about the natural world, to experiment in and to play. Teachers regularly comment to our staff that they see real changes in the children who come here, particularly those who struggle in a classroom setting: they are often more engaged than usual and are able to learn more as a result.”
Education Officer Cath Evans added: “Giving children this kind of first-hand experience of the natural world can help support positive behavioural change, encouraging them to play outdoors, try unfamiliar and healthy foods and take personal actions to protect the environment. This, in turn, can improve their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of their communities in both the short and long term.”
Tricia Edington, Scotmid’s Membership & Community Manager said “This exciting project falls into so many of Scotmid’s grant categories; health promotion, environment, active lifestyles, children and education, and because of this, the decision-making process was simple. It’s a fantastic opportunity for children within the Edinburgh area to have fun while learning about the natural world. Scotmid aims to make a difference in the communities we operate in and we do this by enabling our customers and members to apply for a Scotmid Community Grant.”