A COMMUNITY action group has been lucky enough to receive a grant that has helped it to encourage gardening at schools in Bicester.

The money comes from Bicester Village’s Make a Difference Fund where different local groups were awarded sums to help them continue to bring positive change to the lives of local people.

Grassroots Bicester, who run the town’s Community Garden, has used the money to work with local schools to plant fruit trees.

The group want to help local primary schools to get children gardening and growing fruit and vegetables while helping them to develop crucial skills, encouraging them to work outside and discover the joys of gardening.

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Ten out of 11 schools in Bicester now have six fruit trees each - supplied by the Heritage Fruit Tree Company in Banbury.

Each has also been given a set of garden tools and some bark chippings to mulch their trees when they are planted.

Tia Wedgewood-Cathey, vice chair of Grassroots Bicester, said: “The idea came to us after I had a conversation with the headteacher at Southwold, Mrs Wollington, who had indicated that she would dearly love to get the children gardening and growing their own food. And I thought, ‘how can we help?’.

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“This is an amazing project and we are so very proud to have been able to help the local schools in this way.”

The group has also made plans for a class of children from Southwold school to start visiting the Community Garden on a regular basis.

Ms Wedgewood-Cathey added: “We also encourage the rest of the schools to come along and would be happy for them to contact us about arranging this.”

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The group had enough money left over from the project to give two trees to schools in neighbouring villages too.

Grassroots Bicester will be purchasing vegetable seeds and strawberry plants for each of the schools in spring as well.

Headteacher at Gagle Brook Primary School, Gill Gooch, on Bicester’s eco village, Elmsbrook, welcomes the project.

She said: “Trees enrich our environment, provide a habitat for wildlife, enable us to teach the children about what plants need to survive and flourish and also some focus on climate change.

“We have also received support from the ECO community to plant the trees and gardening equipment from Just Ask to continue gardening across the seasons.”