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Our polytunnel

The polytunnel project is being led by Becky Dickinson. Becky is a freelance journalist for national newspapers and magazines and the author of several books on gardening and wellbeing. She also works as a Meal Time Assistant at Appledore School and is looking forward to helping children grow food in the polytunnel.

An avid veg grower, Becky is passionate about the importance of gardening for the environment and about the role of nature and spending time outdoors for physical and mental health. She has three children, two at Appledore School and one at Bideford College. They are all fed up of eating ‘green soup.’

A new outdoor resource

Utilising an underused corner of the school grounds and funding from the Garden Connections project, and with the help of a wonderful group of volunteers, we have been able to build a large polytunnel on the school grounds. The polytunnel arrives at just the right time, providing a large, well-ventilated space for children to work in, helping to meet the needs of current health guidelines. Built on the bare earth, without the need for anything more than a few foundation poles fixed in place and a trench to bury the bottom of the cover in (to make it secure in high winds), the structure will have zero long-term impact on the site. This was an important factor in our decision making.

Space to learn

This space will provide is an opportunity for the children to work on practical, gardening and science-related tasks in all weathers. With enough space for half a class, and with the Apple Tree Initiative's network of gardening volunteers, forest school leaders, scientists and gardening experts available to guide and support activities and create new learning materials, the polytunnel offers a wealth of learning opportunities.

Take a look at the Countryfile programme that highlights the value of this type of activity in schools (approx 12 minutes into this programme).

A wealth of new experiences

Through cultivation and propagation; working with tools; carrying out scientific studies of soil; designing and building watering systems, raised beds and storage for the tunnel; studying the structure of plants, managing termperature and ventilation control; exploring plant classification and writing up gardening journals, experiments and records, this space will deliver engaging learning opportunities, across the curriculum. We have a little more work to do on the structure, including fitting the doors and benching, but we can start using the polytunnel this term.

We would like to thank the company, families and individuals who joined us for the polytunnel raising weekend. Their generosity made the construction of this polytunnel (and the chicken house) possible:

Graham Jury of Notts Ltd  ( for supplying the digger )

Steven Mathers (for the groundworks)

Rebecca and Dean Willison and their children Evie and Penny ( for construction help and refreshments canteen).  

Karen and Nick Watts and their children Charlie and Millie (for erecting the chicken house on the same weekend)

It was a long, hot couple of days but we got the job done!


Also take a look at the work the Watts family did on constructing the chicken house during that weekend.