Pupils Plant Up Community Garden For Dementia Residents 

5th June, 2019


Class 5 pupils tend to community gardens for local residents with dementia and physical support needs, as part of the school’s gardening programme, now in its fifth year.


A twelve- minute walk from the campus, our 10- and 11-year-old pupils navigate wheelbarrows with cyclists and dog walkers along the tranquil Union Canal, taking turns with the load of potted plants, spades and gloves to reach the gardens of North Merchiston centre for the older community.


Looking out of the ground floor windows of the Council run day care building the traditional tenement views are beautified with flower beds in the foreground. Today the children planted up white and blue hydrangeas and delicate Marguerites in the summer soil (wet with rain).


Gardening is a fundamental part of the curriculum at Edinburgh Steiner School from Kindergarten through to the final year of school.  Bulb planting, seed sowing, looking after the mature gardens and seasonal activities follow once they are of school age.




By Class 5, timetabled gardening lessons begin – growing annuals from seed and pupils learn to tend their own plots. The following years they revisit composting, are introduced to landscaping and environmental projects and begin to grow their own vegetables. The older pupils prepare a wholesome school lunch, using ingredients grown in the gardens where possible.


Gardening teacher Fopper Jellema introduced the community gardening element to the programme as a way to broaden the experiences of the children. Walking back along the canal in time for the lunch bell, he says: “I have witnessed over the years how these trips off-campus invigorate enthusiasm for the subject, offering pupils the opportunity to make a positive difference to people in the school’s local community”.