Green fingered pupils get ready for veg box contest

Members of the Gardening Club at Carlton Miniott Community Primary School, near Thirsk,  planting up some of the vegetables into a vegetable box which is part of the Great Yorkshire Show's children's vegetable garden competition. (gl 1225)
Members of the Gardening Club at Carlton Miniott Community Primary School, near Thirsk, planting up some of the vegetables into a vegetable box which is part of the Great Yorkshire Show's children's vegetable garden competition. (gl 1225)

School children from a primary school near Thirsk are rolling up their sleeves and developing green fingers in the hope of taking the top prize in a competition to encourage healthy eating.

For the third year running, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, organisers of the annual Great Yorkshire Show, is holding a Children’s Vegetable Garden Competition to get young people growing their own healthy produce and have a better understanding of where their food comes from.

Hope Williams inspecting some of the vegetables. (gl 1248)

Hope Williams inspecting some of the vegetables. (gl 1248)

Dozens of schools from across the Yorkshire region, including youngsters from Carlton Miniott Community Primary School near Thirsk have applied to take part. Schools from as far afield as Leeds and Leyburn and Keighley and Knaresborough are also developing a veg patch to enter.

Last week, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society delivered the wooden vegetable box and compost to Carlton Miniott, and now pupils at the village school are busy planning what to grow, when to plant and the best way to tend their boxes, as well as keeping a diary, to be in with a chance of winning.

The 15 best vegetable boxes will be showcased at the Great Yorkshire Show, which runs from Tuesday, July 10 to Thursday, July 12.

The 15 best diary-writers will also be invited to attend along with the young growers.

Television gardener Christine Walkden, resident gardener on BBC’s The One Show, will choose the overall winners on Wednesday, the second day of the event, which attracts around 130,000 visitors each year.

This year the competition has an added bio-diversity element to encourage schools not only to grow fruit and vegetables, but attract insects to their boxes.

Mike Prest, co-ordinator of the competition said it had grown in popularity since beginning three years ago, with pupils keeping diaries about their vegetable boxes, as well as cultivating delicious home-grown produce.

“The bio-diversity part of this year’s competition is new and follows on from what is happening in the industry.

“As growers move away from pesticides, they are planting strips of flowering plants to encourage pest eating bugs and attract other insects, such as bees, to help pollinate the plants,” said Mr Prest.

Sonia Ward, teaching assistant at Carlton Miniott Community Primary School, near Thirsk, said pupils were very excited about taking part.

“We already have a very popular gardening club at our school as well as a wildlife area and a greenhouse.

“Thanks to the Yorkshire Agricultural Society we are looking forward to growing lots of fruit and vegetables in our new wooden box and can’t wait to get started,” she said.

The Children’s Vegetable Garden Competition, run by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, is sponsored by the NFU and Stocksbridge Technology Centre at Cawood, near Selby.

Planting boxes have been delivered to schools across the region, with the compost provided by Bulrush Horticulture Ltd.