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RHS begins search for School Gardeners of the Year

The Royal Horticultural Society today begins its search to find school gardening’s brightest stars as RHS School Gardeners of the Year 2018 opens for nominations.

Now in its seventh year, the nationwide competition celebrates the passion and creativity in school gardening across the UK, encourages schools’ ambitions with a range of top prizes and shines a light on the powerful impact that gardening can have on children’s learning, development and wellbeing.

In 2018, supported by greenhouse provider Gabriel Ash, the RHS is calling on schools to nominate their gardening heroes across three 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 are invited to enter at https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/sgoty18 with applications closing at 5pm on Wednesday 25 April. Shortlisted applicants will be asked to produce a five-minute video in support of their entry.

A host of top prizes are up for grabs including cedar coldframes and a greenhouse manufactured by Gabriel Ash, as well as National Garden Gift Vouchers and tools. 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 has been running for ten years, supporting almost 35,000 schools and youth groups and six million children to garden, and comes as the government commits £10million to help engage school children in nature as part of its 25 Year Environment Plan. A survey of schools by the RHS found that 96% reported gardening had enabled young people to connect with nature, and 83% and 82% of schools felt it had improved the mental and physical wellbeing of young people respectively.

Frances Tophill, TV gardener and competition judge said: “I wasn’t lucky enough to get the chance to garden at school so I’m always delighted at the opportunities that are available to pupils now – be it growing veg from seed or encouraging wildlife into their plots. It’s a real joy to help judge School Gardeners of the Year and see first-hand the difference that gardening can make.”

Alana Tapsell, skills development manager at the Royal Horticultural Society said: “We know that school gardening can enrich the curriculum, build life skills and improve mental and physical wellbeing. By shining a light on some of the most inspiring examples from across the country we hope to encourage even more to get outside and grow.”

In 2017, Fraser White, 10, from Fife, took home the Young School Gardener of the Year accolade because of his dedication to the school garden which he used to cement friendships and as a space to unwind. Hammersmith Academy in London walked away with the team award while science teacher David Nicol from the Good Shepherd Institute in Bishopton took home the champion award.

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

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