The Eco-Garden at Senior School Voorschoten was officially opened in June of 2013. It was part of the school’s aims to be environmentally friendly and have an opportunity for students to engage with nature on school premises, to lead a project and to inspire their fellow students and staff. What had just been an empty expanse of grass is now an area of great variety with shrubs and bushes, wild flower beds, fruit trees, bird table and nesting boxes as well as an insect hotel and a greenhouse. 

Supporting local wildlife

The Eco-Garden has flourished over the years with a wide variety of flora and fauna. From hares, to rare butterflies and moths and so much more. The Eco Team and Allotment Team have been working hard to make sure the garden continues to support the local wildlife.  

Adding the allotment to grow fruit & veg

In 2015, an allotment was added to the garden. This is an area where students can grow their own fruit and vegetables and work together. Students can take what they have grown home, or share it with the wider school community, the student café and the staff. The students developed the allotment by following the RHS School Gardening Scheme. Within the year the garden had become a 5 Star RHS School Garden.  

Since the allotment has been developed, a greenhouse has also been added, where students are growing tomatoes and cucumbers.  

Each house a chicken

The allotment was so popular, that the students wrote a proposal to double the size of the allotment and add chickens. The proposal was accepted and the following year the allotment doubled in size with the help of our amazing concierge team. And…four chickens appeared!

A competition was organised to name the chickens, one for each BSN House. Dame Cluckington for Leiden, Chickachu for Amsterdam, Delphine for Delft and Mabel for Gouda. Students of all ages would come at break time to sit on the bench and watch the chickens. Over the years a few more chickens were added. At the moment of writing, there are 7 lovely ladies chuckling away.  

Helping our pollinators

In March 2020, the Eco team saw there was a barren piece of land running alongside the Eco garden fence, where not much grew. A plan was put into action: a new wild flower bed. Thankfully, the students were able to seed the bed before we went into lockdown in March of 2020. Through the summer term, the bed flourished, giving vital food for our bees and insects. 

Plans for the future

This school year, the eco team are planning on moving some of our existing sapling to create a new natural habitat at the bottom corner of the school field. Our students are also helping out locally, helping to plant a bee garden in the Natuurspeeltuin’ in Voorschoten.  

It has been amazing to see how the Eco-Garden has grown and expanded over the years with the enthusiasm and inspiring efforts of our Senior School students. We are looking forward to seeing how it develops in the future.

 

 

Bethan Chewter

Support Assistant British School in The Netherlands

Bethan has been living and working in the Netherlands for 14 years. For the last 12 years she has worked at Senior School Voorschoten as a Learning Support Assistant. She feels it is important that to get students engaged in making a difference to our environment from an early age.