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Search begins to find the next generation of star gardeners

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The search to find the next generation of star gardeners begins today as the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) opens nominations for RHS School Gardeners of the Year 2019.

Now in its eighth year, the nationwide competition champions the many benefits of school gardening, shining a light on young people of all skill levels who are passionate about gardening and the inspirational adults who teach them. 

Supported by greenhouse manufacturer and prize provider Hartley Botanic, the RHS is calling on schools to nominate their gardening superstars across three competition categories:

  • RHS Young School Gardener of the Year: Nominations open for pupils aged 5-16 who demonstrate a true passion for gardening, show invaluable gardening skills and have made an outstanding contribution to their school or local community.
  • RHS School Gardening Team of the Year: Recognises an outstanding gardening team that has made a difference to their school environment or local community.
  • RHS School Gardening Champion of the Year: Celebrates teachers, leaders and volunteers who have inspired a passion for gardening and have used the outdoors to help bring the curriculum alive.

Schools can enter their nominees at https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/sgoty19 with applications closing at 5pm on Wednesday 24 April. Shortlisted applicants will be asked to produce a short video in support of their entry which is used by the judging panel to pick the winners. The winners will be announced in June.   

A host of top prizes are up for grabs including an award-winning, handmade Hartley Botanic greenhouse worth £10,000 and Hartley Botanic patio glasshouses, National Garden Gift Vouchers and tickets to RHS Flower Shows. Winning schools will also receive a visit from competition judge and TV gardening presenter, Frances Tophill, who appears on BBC Gardeners’ World and ITV’s Love Your Garden.

The annual search forms part of the charity’s RHS Campaign for School Gardening which provides free resources and advice to over 38,000 schools and groups across the UK. With young people increasingly disconnected from nature and the outdoor world and the knock-on effect on wellbeing, the campaign calls on every child to be given to chance to garden which can also boost learning and hone a host of other skills.     

Alana Cama, RHS Skills Development Manager said: “The competition highlights what a difference gardening can make to young people’s lives – whether it’s improving their health and mental wellbeing, enriching curriculum learning or opening their eyes to a love of gardening that will stay with them as they grow older. I can’t wait to hear the inspirational stories behind this year’s nominees.”

The prize of an award-winning, handmade Hartley Botanic greenhouse worth up to £10,000 has been donated by the historic Lancashire greenhouse manufacturer and will go to the winning school gardening team.   

Tom Barry, Hartley Botanic’s Managing Director said: “We are thrilled to be supporting the RHS with this year’s competition. The love of gardening often starts from an early age and this is a great way to encourage children to discover the joy of growing early on.”

In 2018, 15-year-old Ellie Micklewright from Shropshire took home the RHS Young School Gardener of the Year award after wowing judges with her dedication and initiative in creating a weekly school gardening club from scratch. Starting with very little equipment or resources, she managed to secure funding for the club and get 40 other students on board.

St Gregory’s Catholic Science College in London received the team award for their school garden which was once earmarked to extend the school car park, while Matthew Willer, a history teacher from Reepham High School in Norfolk was named RHS School Gardening Champion for his work to launch The Allotment Project on the edge of the school’s playing field.

For more information and advice about school gardening visit the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website: https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk

Photo credit – Jason Bye.

Caption – RHS School Gardening Champion of the Year, Matt Willer of Reepham High School and College.

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