Wallace Hall Polytunnel Project

Building a polytunnel, what could be a better way to be creative and innovative during Lockdown? This is what the staff and pupils at Wallace Hall Hub have been getting stuck into over the last few weeks. As a result, the new school polytunnel is now in place and full of vegetables of all kinds.

The project was already underway last year but was delayed when an Oystercatcher nested in the site of the new tunnel in Spring 2019. Due to time and weather constraints, it was hard for teachers to get back to the project at the start of the new school year in 2020. However, lockdown provided an ideal opportunity for completion of the much awaited polytunnel. Wallace Hall staff, with social distancing in place, got together to prepare the site, lay concrete foundations and secure the frame. The polythene cover was then put in place. Raised beds were created internally down each side of the class size construction and top-soil to fill them was kindly donated by JJ Currie of Dumfries. Carronbridge Sawmill provided the wood chip for the pathways in and around the tunnel and sawn timber for the new external raised beds. Then the planting began. The children and staff in the Hub had already sown lots of seeds so by the time the tunnel was complete they had plenty of small plants to grow on in the tunnel. They had great fun planting the seeds and decorating tins for plant pots. The children at home even took part in a quiz to guess what all of the little plants were from photographs.

Building the tunnel wasn’t the whole project however, staff and pupils got to grip with landscaping around the tunnel and creating more growing areas and raised beds. Oak Bank Waste Management provided a much-needed skip to take away the garden waste, mainly lots of tough weeds! As a tribute to NHS staff and the care workers working during the Covid-19 outbreak, the children created an eye-catching brickwork rainbow decoration on the grass plot near the front of the polytunnel.

There is now a wonderful area around the tunnel which will enhance learning and help to promote health and wellbeing. There are plants, flowers and vegetables all around the outdoor area and in the tunnel. Children returning to school in August will be able to learn about growing and caring for plants. They will then get creative with the produce! The resource is there for the whole school community to share and enjoy.

Barry Graham, Head Teacher at Wallace Hall, said: “Many thanks to all staff members and families who have given their time freely and donated resources to help complete this special project. Special thanks goes to Russell Currie of JJ Currie, Walter Marchbank for delivering the top-soil, Vod and Brian Wylie of Carronbridge Sawmill and Andy McNish of Oakbank Waste Management for their combined generosity in providing resources to help complete the project. Thanks also goes to Education Scotland for funding the purchase of the polytunnel through the Food for Thought initiative. For staff and pupils this area, along with the rainbow, will always be a positive reminder of our time during lockdown.”

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