TRANSITION Year students at Terence MacSwiney Community College spent their Thursday morning digging a 144ft trench at the back of their school in order to plant a hedgerow and enhance the biodiversity of the local area.
The Knocknaheeny students, guided by their teacher Eva Corbett and with the assistance of Green Spaces for Health coordinator Maria Young, diligently and arduously dug the trench to plant fruit trees, trees and hedgerows.
Green Spaces for Health are an eco-social group.
Speaking to The Echo, Ms Corbett said it was a very exciting project.
“All the trees are native species and the initiative will be supporting biodiversity.”
The hedgerow is planted along the very back of the school grounds, beyond their pitches, on the boundary of the school.
Ms Corbett, who has been working at Terence MacSwiney Community College for seven years, is also the Green School coordinator and the school is currently working towards it first flag.
“We are trying to be more sustainable,” she said.
The newly planted hedgerow was a ‘pure fluke’ idea that sprung from a visit to Hollyhill library.
“We took the students to the library and they have a seed bank there. I met Maria from Green Spaces for Health and brought her to the school to speak with the students, and when she saw the space we had out the back of the school, she suggested we plant something.”
The hedgerow is made up of a mix of species, such as apple and pear trees, hawthorn and crabapple, walnut, plum, hazel, bay, holly, quince and coton easter.
“There is a lot of variety and it will encourage biodiversity in the area, birds will shelter there, and insects will live in the ground.”
Ms Corbett said the school felt very lucky to have the space to be able to take on a project like this.
“Our principal Phil O’Flynn has been very supportive and it is a fantastic educational opportunity.
“Transition Year is all about getting out and trying new experiences as well as working as part of a team and growing an appreciation for the community.”
The TY students are currently working towards their Gaisce award which includes things like community involvement, clean-ups and gardening, all of which are part of the school project they have undertaken.
“We know the hedgerow will start off small, so we have put a lot of mulch around the area, to mark it and keep people from stepping on the area. We know we will have to look after it well.”
The TY teacher said it was lovely to be able to give back to the community and to nature.
The Community College also recently won a National Euroscola Competition and a trip to Strasbourg for its Community Involvement and Strategic Development Goals (SDGs).
Euroscola is an EU decision-making simulation for secondary school students, organised by European Parliament in Ireland and An Gaisce.