Green-fingered youngsters who were given an allotment on a 4,000-acre country estate have handed over their first harvest to a local charity for homeless people.
Pupils at Chantry Middle School in Morpeth have been enjoying their own taste of the Good Life by tending the vegetable plot and fruit garden once a week on historic Meldon Park estate.
The 12- and 13-year-olds have grown potatoes, cabbages, sprouts, broccoli, carrots, peas, rocket, spring onions, radishes, beetroot, lettuce and strawberries to hone their gardening skills, after being invited in by the estate’s owners, Emily and James Cookson.
Now their first harvest has been handed over to Barnabas Safe and Sound, a Morpeth charity which helps young people with housing problems.
Barnabas staff will use the produce in cookery classes to help young homeless people learn to look after themselves.
Mr and Mrs Cookson, who run the Kitchen Garden Cafe on their estate, invited the pupils in to cultivate spare land in their walled garden, and even provided seeds and equipment.
Every Friday afternoon the youngsters have been working on the plot under the guidance of teacher Lisa Elliott, Chantry's head of design technology. After four months of sowing, planting, weeding and watering, they have now donated their crop to Barnabas Safe and Sound.
Mrs Cookson said: “We thought this was a great way of educating pupils about healthy eating and introducing them to fresh produce at a young age.
“It also gave them a great opportunity to be active outdoors in the fresh air, and the children really seem to have enjoyed coming up here to work on the garden.
“We're thrilled that Barnabas Safe and Sound, a hugely important charity that does so much vital work for homeless young people in Morpeth, will benefit from this project.”
Ms Elliott said: “About 25 children have taken part in the Meldon Park project this year, and every one of them has thoroughly enjoyed their time at the vegetable patch.
“In stunning surroundings, our pupils have learnt about planning a project, growing crops and food miles, as well as practical maths and science.
“They have grown all sorts of fruit and veg, including Little Gem and Lollo Rosso lettuces, fennel, radishes and potatoes, and they were very excited to pull them up when they were ready.”
Chris Menzies, manager of Barnabas Safe and Sound, in Dark Lane, Morpeth, said: “We’re delighted with the harvest produced by the children and they should be very proud of themselves for what they have achieved.
“It was a fantastic project to be involved in, and we’d like to thank Meldon Park for making it possible. This will help us an enormous amount in educating young people we help in healthy eating and how to budget for food.”