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More than 600 entries from schools are expected at this year's Dundee Flower and Food Festival, which kicks off at the city's Camperdown Park today.

More than 600 entries from schools are expected at this year's Dundee Flower and Food Festival, which kicks off at the city's Camperdown Park today.

Educational activities are an increasing focus for the three-day event which, on the food side, hosts the fabulous Desperate Danwich competition for primaries and the Super Chef competition for high schools.

Dundee Council's senior countryside ranger, George Potts, is in charge of the children's marquee which will be crowded with hundreds of pupils today, anxious to see how they've done in the art and nature competitions, whose themes are butterflies and the colour purple.

Children aged three to 16, from nursery schools, primaries, secondaries and special education units, have been busy producing models of giant butterflies and caterpillars from recycled materials, as well as computer- generated images.

"No matter what themes we come up with, the children always exceed our expectations with what they produce," says Mr Potts. "The thrust of what we do is educational and aimed at providing opportunities for children to enjoy nature and the countryside."

The children's marquee also features dozens of activities, including a vegetable digging area where visitors can have a go at harvesting carrots and potatoes from a peat bed. A group of S1-2 pupils from Menzieshill High knows all about growing vegetables. For the past year, they have been involved in a project, led by Marji Henderson of the council's Quality Contact team, to create an organic garden at their school. They have harvested their first crop and will be showing a basket of their produce and displaying photographs of the project in the children's marquee.

www.dundeeflowerandfoodfestival.com.

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