A few days ago I wrote about the side of the Hertfordshire Gardens Trust devoted to protecting our historic parks and gardens but that is just one aspect of their work.

With the intention of giving children the opportunity of practical experience and growing something that they can eat the Wheelbarrow Workshops project was launched in 2008. To date they have run over 74 sessions at 53 different schools, catering for up to 30 children at a time.

Mrs Wheelbarrow, wearing a trademark green apron, arrives in the classroom with two wheelbarrows stuffed full of recycled equipment, plus lots of other bits and pieces to show the children exactly what seeds look like, which parts of the plants we enjoy eating, together with growing and sprouting examples of what they will be learning about. The children work in pairs on one of five activities. These range from sowing salad cresses or beans, sprouting pulses or sowing and transplanting tomatoes. To end this practical session each child gets the opportunity to make a newspaper pot and sow something in it to take home. The focus is on growing vegetables and, depending on the season, some unusual produce such as misshapen vegetables, blue pumpkins as well as all kinds of seeds will be included. There is a nominal charge of £25 to help with the costs of seeds and materials.

The Trust runs a School Grounds Awards scheme for primary schools where a gardening project is just beginning – this award will help pay for the first new raised bed, tools for the gardening club, compost bins for the start of an eco project or compost and some paving and fencing. For schools where a garden is under way the award can help with some extras such as cloches or even a small greenhouse.

Each project supported by the Trust must have active involvement from the children. Teachers welcome this support and have reported back that the scheme has helped to give their pupils a sense of ownership and responsibility. Experts from the Trust will also visit schools that are having specific problems, either in starting a garden project, design, maintenance, etc.

Garden information sheets are available free of charge from the Trust. These are full of practical advice on anything and everything to do with gardening, from planting, finding the best places to site particular plants, compost making, recognising some poisonous plants, and lots more besides.

Schools interested in any of the above should contact Bella Stuart-Smith at schools@hertsgardenstrust.org.uk