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Green-fingered pupils go organic

Pumpkins for Hallowe'en, fresh fruit for harvest festival - how healthy does your garden grow?

FROM allotment to plant pot, Britain's schools are going organic.

An average of one school per day is joining the Organic Network for Schools. Members are told how to create their own organic garden and are given suggestions for tying the project into the curriculum.

Children in the reception class at St Luke's primary in Finsbury Park, north London, have been cultivating flowers and vegetables in their garden since last year.

Headteacher Ann Dwulit said: "We've already had a crop of pumpkins, which was brilliant for Hallowe'en, and there have been some tasty runner beans, strawberries and potatoes. It will be great for this year's harvest festival because we'll have real fruit and vegetables to show the children."

Maggi Brown is head of education at the Organic Organisation which runs the schools network. She said: "There is an amazing surge in the number of schools going organic. I think it is down to a combination of factors. The healthy eating campaign is really getting going in schools.

"Now the Office for Standards in Education is saying sustainability is important and that gardens are civilising environments. And it could be because it all tastes so good. The children are growing their own organic vegetables, then eating them."

Joining the network is free. Call Maggi Brown on 024 7630 3517

ORGANIC GARDEN DOS AND DON'TS

* Prepare your garden by cutting down tall weeds and grasses, then cover the area with light-excluding mulch (black polythene, cardboard boxes, newspapers or carpet).

* Draw a plan of your garden including existing plants and those you want to cultivate.

* Create a compost heap and make leafmould to feed the soil.

* Use organically grown seeds where possible.

* Collect rain to water plants.

* Do not use slug pellets.

* Use herbicides to control weeds, not pesticides.

* Do not use genetically modified plants.

* Recycle garden and household waste.

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