A fresh approach – Ysgol Bro Banw pupils investigate the cost effectiveness of growing their own

Inspired and feeling ‘up-beet’ having completed a 6-week gardening course, Year 2 teacher, Victoria Thomas from Ysgol Bro Banw, Ammanford was ready to dig deep and try growing fruit and vegetables with her learners. 

Would it be cost-effective, and would it help tackle food waste?  Victoria and her Foundation Phase learners set about finding out.

“I attended a training course which had been organised by Louise Morgan from Carmarthenshire County Council and ‘Adam yn yr Ardd’ which looked at tackling climate change through gardening.  Adam (Jones) is an experienced gardener from West Wales who advocates organic and nature-friendly gardening.  I learnt so much during the six weeks, it was a great springboard and it inspired me create a garden here at Bro Banw Foundation Phase.  Each attending setting received £500 upon course completion to spend on gardening equipment, and we had opportunities to visit and learn from other settings that were digging in and benefitting from growing their own produce.

“We wanted to know if there was a cheaper way of obtaining fruit and vegetables.  We took the children to town to compare the cost of buying vegetables from Tesco, Lidl and the local market.  We looked at the cost of buying plants and seeds from the local garden centre. They inputted their data to create a graph and then analysed the results.  Homegrown was clearly the cheapest!  We also wanted to know how much food waste there was with regards to vegetables in pupils’ home fridges and cupboards.  Having looked at the results, we realised that there was a lot of vegetables and subsequently money going to waste.  The survey results also showed that some learners didn’t know where vegetables came from.  Following discussions, the children expressed their wish to begin to grow their own vegetables.

“The first step was developing our garden area.  The children planned out how the garden should look, and we were very fortunate to receive a Welsh Government ‘Local Places for Nature – food growing garden package’ from Keep Wales Tidy to help realise their vision.  They were amazing - we received a greenhouse, shed, raised beds, fruit trees, 9 tons of soil, gardening tools and a compost bin.  Some parents helped them to build the raised beds and once built the next job was filling them with soil – all 9 tons!  The soil couldn’t be delivered close to the raised beds therefore it had to be moved by using a human chain of Year 1 and 2 children and buckets of soil.  It was a lot of work but worth it in the end.  They worked non-stop.

“Having bought seeds, it was time for the children to get hands on and plant them.  Due to the time of year, the children planted lettuce seeds in school in used fruit punnets and then took them home over the Easter holidays.  To keep the children engaged and to ensure they nurtured their seeds, we made it a lettuce growing competition.  Runner beans were planted in poly pockets so the children could watch the roots grow.  Once the seedlings were big enough, we planted them out in our garden.  We grew everything from squash to peas, Brussel sprouts to herbs.  Turning a problem into a learning opportunity, when we realised that caterpillars were eating our Brussel sprout leaves, we collected some and placed them in a butterfly mesh holder.  The children observed the caterpillars going through their lifecycle and measured their growth before setting the newly emerged butterflies free.

“To compliment and add value to their line of enquiry, we arranged trips to Betws Park, Aberglasney Gardens, and Golden Grove.  These gave the learners an insight into the importance of worms and compost and the variety of growing methods that are available.  One of the parents who kept alpacas gifted us some manure – they eat a lot of nettles, so the manure was perfect for our plants, even if the children did complain about the smell!  As well as planting wildflower seeds around the peripheries to attract pollinators, we also had a visitor come in and speak to the children about honeybees.  The children learnt about how people and the natural world rely and impact on each other and had an opportunity to visit the National Botanic Garden of Wales to see honeybees in action.  The children counted how many pollinator friendly plants they could see before going on to calculate how much protein they offered for bees.  Their calculations revealed that each plant produced enough protein for a bee to travel 3.2 metres.  Using Excel, the children calculated the total distance a bee could travel using the protein from the flowers found in their search area.  It was amazing!  They found a bee could travel over 5,000 km thanks to the protein power of the plants present.

“The learning culminated with a showcase.  The children created fact files on vegetables, life cycles and how to grow vegetables from seeds.  Parents were invited to the garden for their child to give them a tour, share their learning, and present their findings.  It was superb to see the children interact with their parents. They were overflowing with enthusiasm and excitement to show off our garden and all the skills that they had learnt about growing vegetables.  Many of the parents were particularly interested in how much cheaper it was to grow your own and some expressed an interest in having a go at home.

“With regards to the 4 Purposes of the Curriculum for Wales, the children certainly became ambitious and capable learners.  They became capable of growing their own vegetables, caring for them, understanding the importance of using the correct compost and had a go at creating their own compost.  The line of enquiry instilled ambition to grow their own vegetables at home and encouraged them to think about the importance of vegetables and fruit.  It helped to embed a lifelong knowledge that to be healthy they need to eat vegetables and that being healthy equals a confident mindset.

“Informed citizens, it was clear to the children that it was much cheaper to grow their own rather than buy fruit and vegetables.  Growing their own might be cheaper but was it tastier?  The children took part in a blind potato taste test – Lidl vs the market vs homegrown potatoes.  The children voted our homegrown potatoes the nicest. They also became more ethical after realising that we mustn’t pick wildflowers and that honeybees should be left alone to pollinate flowers.

“The line of enquiry allowed us to deliver against all the Areas of Learning and Experience as outlined below.”

Areas of learning and experience

Mathematics and numeracy

What matters statements:

  • The number system is used to represent and compare relationships between numbers and the number system
  • Statistics represents data, probability models chance and both support informed inferences and decisions

Met by:

  • Computation; adding cost of seed packets in our challenge areas
  • Comparing growth
  • Calculating the duration that cocoons will take to turn into butterflies and noting it on a calendar
  • Measuring distance needed to plant seeds and seedlings so that the distance between them was equal
  • Measuring sunflowers, plotting their growth on a graph
  • Measuring the height of beetroot plants
  • Using strawberry runners to demonstrate multiplication and division
  • Using money and the language of money to price seeds and vegetables before and exchanging money to buy items

Language, literacy and communication

What matters statements:

  • Language connects us
  • Understanding language is key to understanding the world around us
  • Expressing ourselves through language is key to communication

Met by:

  • Creating life cycles
  • Use of tables
  • Drawing and labelling diagrams
  • Presenting their argument that growing your own is cheaper and why
  • Researching vegetables
  • Listening skills - listening to visitors
  • Presenting their showcase
  • Presenting a set of questions

Health and well-being

What matters statements:

  • Developing physical health and wellbeing has lifelong benefits
  • Our decision-making impacts on the quality of our lives and the lives of others

Met by:

  • Discussing and researching the importance of eating vegetables and fruit
  • Importance of eating vegetables and fruit
  • Trying different fruits and vegetables - eating healthily

Science and technology

What matters statements:

  • Being curious and searching for answers is essential to understanding and predicting phenomena
  • Design thinking and engineering offers technical and creative ways to meet society’s needs and wants
  • The world around us is full of living things which depend on each other for survival

Met by:

  • Cooking potatoes and beetroot
  • Discussing and researching the importance of fertiliser
  • Using cutting equipment to cut and prepare vegetables to make a cawl
  • Investigating the life cycles of vegetables and butterflies
  • Using manure from our own chickens
  • Researching the conditions needed to grow vegetables
  • Building frames for the cucumbers and peas to grow
  • Recycling food to create compost


What matters statements:

  • Enquiry, exploration, and investigation inspire curiosity about the world, its past, present and future
  • Our natural world is diverse and dynamic, influenced by processes and human actions
  • Informed self-aware citizens engage with the challenges and opportunities that face humanity and are able to take consideration and ethical action

Met by:

  • Learning about local areas – visiting the local park
  • Learning about the importance of recycling
  • Studying a map to find out how to get there
  • Learning about the concept of sustainability
  • Visiting the Botanical Garden of Wales
  • Ensuring wildflowers are available for bees
  • Visiting local a hub to obtain food caddies
  • Learning about the importance of worms for compost

Expressive arts

What matters statements:

  • Exploring the expressive arts is essential to developing artistic skills and knowledge and it enables learners to become curious and creative individuals

Met by:

  • Using and vegetables to create food art
    Needle felting flowers.
    Researching famous artists

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