PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins got to meet the pupils of Mr O'Connor's first class from Sunday’s Well Boys National School yesterday after they were named national Sow & Grown Champions.
More than 45,000 children in 1,278 schools nationwide took part in the competition which enabled the primary school children to learn how to grow their own food in their classrooms.
The winners were announced at the Bloom festival in Dublin.
The teacher of the winning class, Mr O’Connor says his pupils gained a great deal from the experience and enjoyed it immensely.
“These 13 boys have taken to growing food like naturals. Only one of the boys had grown food at home, so it was a brand new experience to all of the other children. They loved the idea of this growing challenge; they enjoyed taking ownership and responsibility for their plants, writing their names on their grow pots."
"They are a creative group; they brought in Lego Star Wars figures and would set up a scene in the garden or amongst the growing pots, so it would look like the storm troopers were doing gardening but they would call them ‘sow troopers’."
"They also used the cress in their school lunches and realised that their growing skills were so brilliant that the pots had run out of room for the plants to grow further, so they made a decision to transfer the plants to an outdoor bed which they weeded and prepared themselves."
"After today, we are planning for a super salad lunch at the end of June with all of the food produce that we have grown before we break up for the summer holidays.”
Presenting the award to the class, founder of GIY Michael Kelly said: “The 13 pupils from Sunday’s Well Boys National School really impressed us, they are a small class with a huge imagination. During their food growing journey, they really engaged in not only growing their own food but in sharing their growing story and learning on social media and also in using their produce for their school lunches.
"Our Behaviour & Attitudes Ireland survey from early this year told us at 14% of Irish children don't understand where their food comes from and this is why initiatives such as ‘Sow & Grow’ are so important and we are really thrilled to see that over 40% of the country’s schools took part in Sow & Grow this year.”
The class of winning pupils were presented with a ‘Sow & Grow’ certificate, a trip to Dublin Zoo, €500 worth of gardening equipment and one-year growing support from GIY.