With students, from left, is headteacher John Hirst, assistant head Claire Chapman, Jimmy Johnson of James Johnson & Co Accountancy, science teacher Veronica Soper, Paul Beal, Margaret and Henry Roper of Hunstanton’s Rainbow Amusements. Picture: Ian Burt

Students at a West Norfolk school will be sowing the seeds for a more sustainable future thanks to a partnership with a community project.

Smithdon High School, in Hunstanton, is in the midst of creating a new garden which will act as an outdoor science classroom and enable students to learn more about a range of subjects, including where food comes from, soil nutrients and attracting insects.

The garden area is also making use of donated items and time, including from a range of local business as well as the royal Sandringham Estate.

“We are so grateful for the donations from local businesses including East Coast Gelato, MJ Large, World of Fun, James Johnson, Rounce and Evans and Rainbow Amusements, these have helped to get this fantastic project started, the pupils have really enjoyed the chance to learn outdoors,” said assistant headteacher Claire Chapman. 

Crops will be grown and harvested from the new courtyard garden area and from September, Smithdon will be supported by the Papillon Project which promotes sustainable living and environmental awareness for young people.

“We are delighted to be getting help, guidance and advice from Matt Willer, the founder of the Papillon Project, to make the garden the best sustainable space it can be for our students’ enjoyment and education,” said science teacher Veronica Soper.

“It will be a space where we can make direct observations, take samples and measurements and conduct experiments. It will also help to support and further develop our curriculum. Our food technology department will use the garden to help students develop a better understanding about where their food comes from and to grow ingredients they can use in the kitchen.”

Students will also be able to enjoy lunch clubs and after-school activities based around the garden. The area is already home to three tractor tyres recycled into planting beds.

“The tyres, donated by Alex Child of the Doubleday group, have already caught the students’ attention and instigated discussion about recycling and the scale of modern farm machinery,” said Mrs Soper.

Members of Year Seven have been sowing sunflower seeds and will be competing to grow the school’s tallest, helped by a delivery of topsoil donated by businessman Steven Johnson and delivered by Justin Aldis.

“The Year Eight students are also involved in the Solana Seeds UK Schools Potato Growing Challenge. Last year we were awarded third place for skin-finish and quality for our first lockdown-grown potatoes that didn’t quite get all the care they needed,” said Mrs Soper.

“We are aiming to improve on that this year with the help of our fantastic new growing space in two raised beds.”