Pupils of St Joseph’s Primary School in Crumlin were excited to get their hands dirty when ‘Muddy Boots’ paid a visit to their school during the week.
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Muddy Boots Programme, which brings edible horticulture to life and teaches people of all ages how to grow their own fruit and vegetables is one of a range of innovative health and wellbeing initiatives. It is a unique programme that can be delivered ‘right on your patch’, So whether it’s a school, day nursery, community group, church or business, this programme truly is a growing initiative for everyone.
Tom O’Sullivan is a freelance horticulturist and delivers the programme; “I am passionate about edible horticulture and bringing it to where the people are in their own communities, so that as many people as possible can get involved. As a result of this innovative model, all ages and abilities now have the opportunity to establish an ongoing curiosity for growing vegetables and fruits which can last a lifetime!”
Dr Janice McConnell, Public Health Nutritionist at Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council adds; “There are many benefits associated with edible horticulture including improvements in mental health and wellbeing, physical health, diet, exercise levels, sustainability, and biodiversity to name but a few.
As well as being delivered as a stand-alone programme that achieves a number of health and wellbeing outcomes, Muddy Boots can also be used as a tool for other programmes with specific goals. An example of this is the Take 5 initiative, which aims to strengthen emotional wellbeing by taking 5 simple steps – connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, and give.
Mr Gavan Duffy, lead teacher at St Joseph’s Primary School commented; “We are delighted to be able to avail of the Muddy Boots initiative as a core part of our Take 5 programme of activities. The children have enjoyed a fantastic interactive session and there is even more to come with the novel, user-friendly multi-media resource, which we have received as part of the programme. This resource will most definitely help guide us as teachers to engage children in edible horticulture within our own school, which is just brilliant”.
Muddy Boots is currently being prepared for roll out across the Borough and further afield. For more information on this and other public health nutrition initiatives in Antrim and Newtownabbey contact Dr Janice McConnell on T. 028 9034 0160 or E. firstname.lastname@example.org