RHS Young School Gardener of the Year 2019, William Rae works in the garden at Edinburgh Academy Junior School William is pictured with fellow P6 pupils, left to right, Sophie, Alexander, Isabella and teacher Rob Tyrell.

RHS School Gardeners of the Year 2019 winners announced

  • Urban schools win across all three competition categories – RHS Young School Gardener, RHS School Gardening Champion and RHS School Gardening Team of the Year
  • Competition shines a light on the many benefits of school gardening, from learning to improved health and wellbeing

City schools have swept the board in this year’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) School Gardeners of the Year competition, winning all three categories – Young School Gardener, School Gardening Team and School Gardening Champion of the Year – and hammering home the many benefits of gardening, particularly food growing, in urban areas.

Now in its eighth year, the nationwide competition supported by historic greenhouse manufacturer Hartley Botanic, celebrates the positive difference that gardening can make to young people’s lives and their learning, development and wellbeing.

The year’s winners chosen by a panel of judges from over 200 nominations are:

  • RHS Young School Gardener of the Year 2019: William Rae, age 11, Edinburgh Academy Junior School, Edinburgh
    Growing everything from radishes to rhubarb, knowledgeable young gardener William enjoys sharing his love of gardening with his schoolmates; instigating a garlic growing competition and mentoring his fellow pupils. In addition to spending a huge amount of time in the school garden, William also recognises the wider environmental benefits of growing your own such as cutting down on plastic packaging and food miles.
  • RHS School Gardening Champion of the Year 2019: Michelle Jones, a parent volunteer at Ashmount Primary School, Crouch Hill, London
    ‘Mum on a mission’ Michelle is passionate about teaching children where food comes from and is the driving force behind a flourishing school gardening club that has got 50 families on board to grow food in the school grounds. Families now flock to Michelle’s weekly gardening sessions, many of whom don’t have gardens at home, and the school grounds are bursting with fresh fruit and vegetables for the whole school to enjoy.
  • RHS School Gardening Team of the Year 2019: Springhallow School, Ealing, London
    The team of nine aged between 12 and 16 from Springhallow, a school for young people with autism, have worked together to create a beautiful and productive garden from scratch; challenging themselves to try new foods and supplying edible flowers to a new school café. Gardening has also helped boost the team’s confidence, social and communication skills.

The winners and finalists of the Young School Gardener and School Gardening Champion of the Year categories will attend an awards ceremony at RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey, on Saturday 22nd June to accept their awards from competition judge and TV gardening expert, Frances Tophill, who appears on BBC Gardeners’ World and ITV’s Love Your Garden.

Springhallow School, the winning School Gardening Team will take delivery of an award-winning, handmade Hartley Botanic Greenhouse worth up to £10,000, while William and Michelle both win handmade Hartley Botanic Patio Glasshouses for their schools. Other prizes include National Garden Gift Vouchers and tickets to RHS Flower Shows.

Frances Tophill, BBC Gardeners’ World presenter and judge said: “Harvesting fresh fruit and vegetables from plants you’ve nurtured from seed is one of the greatest joys of gardening. This year’s winners prove you don’t need acres of space to successfully grow your own and demonstrate how food growing can bring people together, encourage greater experimentation and healthy eating and reduce our environmental footprint.”

Alana Cama, RHS Skills Development Manager said: “We know that growing crops is the most popular school gardening activity but I was impressed by how these city schools have really embraced it to inspire themselves and others – from getting parents involved to inspiring their peers and incentivising them to push their own boundaries.”

The RHS School Gardeners of the Year competition forms part of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening which provides free resources and advice to over 38,000 schools and groups across the UK: www.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening

Further details on this year’s winners and finalists and their nomination videos are at: schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/sgoty19

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