Green-fingered staff from RHS Garden Harlow Carr and horticultural organisations throughout the region have signed up to volunteer their time and expertise to help inspire Yorkshire gardeners of the future.
A nine-strong team from Harlow Carr in Harrogate will be joined by representatives from Horticap, Craven College, Johnsons of Whixley, Grace Landscapes, Green-tech, Hare Spring Cottage Plants, Notcutts, Freshscaped, Gritit and Buglife to mentor teams of secondary-school pupils from throughout the Yorkshire region as part of the RHS ‘Green Plan It Challenge’. This 10-week creative competition is designed to teach young people new skills – including teamwork, design and planning – and to develop their creativity and foster a love of gardening, either as a hobby or potential career choice.
Teams from secondary schools in Yorkshire have signed up to take part in the project: St Aidan’s in Harrogate; King James’s in Knaresborough; Manor Academy & Canon Lee School in York; St Bede’s, Dixons Allerton Academy & Parkside School in Bradford; and St Wilfrid’s in Pontefract.
With each team supported by an industry mentor, Key Stage 3 students in Year 8 and 9 will work in groups of up to six to design a new green space – either at their school or within the local community. They will use a range of materials and media to bring their ideas to life. Through the process students will learn about the importance of plants and green space to people and places in the real world.
Feedback from the 2015 pilot project held in the South East of England identified significant improvement in skills such as leadership, teamwork, presentation and creative thinking.
Gavin Hardy from the RHS Yorkshire Community Outreach Team is coordinating the project. He said: “The RHS Green Plan It Challenge is a fabulous opportunity for pupils to engage with the local environment, apply some new skills, and gain exposure to the diverse range of careers available within the horticulture industry.
“The volunteer mentors will help to inspire the students and guide them through the process – but it is the students themselves who will be in the driving seat: they will choose the location, identify community needs and environmental issues, as well as developing and testing their design ideas while learning how best to work as a team.”
The project will begin with a regional launch event at RHS Garden Harlow Carr on 28 September where the teams will meet their mentors for the first time. Then, in December, all participating students will be invited to a judging and celebration day. Each team will present their designs to an expert judging panel judging panel including RHS Garden Harlow Carr Curator Paul Cook.