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Why these free range eggs and home grown vegetables are so popular

PUBLISHED: 07:30 21 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:54 21 September 2020

The three chicken monitors giving the chickens their morning feed. Birchwood primary school grow their own fruit and veg and sell their produce on a stall outside the school gate for the community. They also keep chickens and sell the eggs.  Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The three chicken monitors giving the chickens their morning feed. Birchwood primary school grow their own fruit and veg and sell their produce on a stall outside the school gate for the community. They also keep chickens and sell the eggs. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

Pupils at a primary school in Martlesham have been selling their home grown produce to the community - and their veggies are so popular they are usually sold out within an hour.

Birchwood primary school grow their own fruit and veg and sell their produce on a stall outside the school gate for the community. They also keep chickens and sell the eggs.  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDBirchwood primary school grow their own fruit and veg and sell their produce on a stall outside the school gate for the community. They also keep chickens and sell the eggs. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Birchwood Primary School has a ‘plot to plate’ ethos and has been growing vegetables in the school grounds for more than 10 years, with an established herb garden and their own chicken coup.

Paul Firman, local authority governor for the partnership of Birchwood and Holbrook Primary Schools, oversees the green fingered project, but insists it is the children who should take credit.

“We encourage all the children to get involved,” he explained. “Each year group has a vegetable plot and they start off with the big seeds when they’re young and work their way up so by the time they’re in Year 6 they have the tiny, more difficult seeds. The children are very enthusiastic.”

“We like to use them vegetables in our cookery school as well as in our own kitchen.”

Birchwood primary school grow their own fruit and veg and sell their produce on a stall outside the school gate for the community. They also keep chickens and sell the eggs.  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDBirchwood primary school grow their own fruit and veg and sell their produce on a stall outside the school gate for the community. They also keep chickens and sell the eggs. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

But now the school is selling surplus produce to parents and the wider community with a stall outside the gates.

Mr Firman explained: “We created the stall during lockdown so that the parents could still come along and buy vegetables with the trust boxes.”

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It doesn’t stop there though, the school is a recognised farm and can sell wholesale.

“We are also DEFRA approved, which not a lot of schools are, which means we have our own farm ID and have our own unique egg stamp which means they’re traceable and we can sell to local businesses.”

The school has 30 chickens – a mixture of rare breeds, heritage breeds, hybrids and at risk breeds.

A group of chicken monitors are chosen from Year 6 and they care for the chickens every day keeping records – some have even gone on to keep their own after leaving school, which Mr Firman sees as a huge success.

Birchwood primary school grow their own fruit and veg and sell their produce on a stall outside the school gate for the community. They also keep chickens and sell the eggs.  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDBirchwood primary school grow their own fruit and veg and sell their produce on a stall outside the school gate for the community. They also keep chickens and sell the eggs. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The inventive addition to the curriculum was started by executive head Steve Cloak and has been supported by volunteer expert Derek Barnes, head of food Sarah Wainer and head of school Melanie Davies.

Mr Firman was left responsible for the chickens over lockdown but has been pleased to see his chicken monitors return with even more enthusiasm as they’ve come back to school.

The vegetable stall pops up outside the school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and sells out every day within the hour.

Typically for sale are runner beans, courgettes, carrots, leeks, garlic, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and cucumber – to name but a few.

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