Sandygate School and Softcat collaborate on “rewilding” project

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Responding to the decline of our natural world, Marlow C of E Infant School (aka Sandygate), holders of the Green Flag Award and who recently declared a climate emergency, have been doing yet more rewilding on school grounds.

Over two years ago, head teacher Sharon Reynolds along with parents and grandparents transformed a twenty-meter square part of the school ground dubbed the Wild World. Previously the space had become so overgrown that no children could explore it. Now the area provides a place both for many species to take hold and thrive and for children to learn their important role in nature and how to respect it.

The Wild World along with the school’s two outbuildings support its commitment for more outside learning. A series of composters that deal with the school’s fruit and vegetable scraps can also be found on school grounds as well as a newly built set of raised beds for each class to grow its own vegetables.

But the school hasn’t stopped there. Mrs Reynolds, in partnership with parent Natasha Somers, have spearheaded another project to rewild a three-foot deep strip of land lining one side of the school’s playing field.

Natasha told us, “This is an inspiring commitment from the school. With large areas of playing fields often in the centre of towns, schools have a unique opportunity to help reverse biodiversity decline with this kind of very important work. Wildlife corridors like this will enable species to thrive and travel across our towns safely. This is a great gift.”

Earlier this week, 12 employees of a local IT solutions company, Softcat, joined Natasha and Vicki Clarke, another parent, to prepare the ground for planting approximately 70 meters of native hedgerow. The Woodland Trust and the school’s dedicated PTA donated the hedgerow.

Trees were also planted. Softcat’s amazing volunteering group planted beech, birch, oak, apple, pear and plum tree saplings and young trees as well as native bulbs including snowdrops and bluebells. Another task in rewilding the land was removing turf to expose the soil, giving wildflower seeds an opportunity to take hold and flourish. The final task saw the team plant and ‘lace’ together over 12 meters of new growing willows, great for nature but also a fun and exciting addition to the playing fields for the children.

Natasha added “We still have more hedgerows to plant as they arrive from the Woodland Trust, but Softcat’s team of amazing volunteers have done all the hard work for us. We cannot be more grateful. Now with minimal intervention, apart from some initial watering and gentle management, we will sit back and allow nature to do her thing. We expect to see more pollinators and birds and who knows what else. It’s the best kind of gardening: just leave it and watch.”

Inspired to do something similar…?

Sandygate has plans for more work in the environmental space and if you are interested in doing something similar, you can contact Natasha natasha.somers@gmail.com or Wild Marlow at wildmarlow.org.uk/ for more information.

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Paul Merchant

About the author: Founded MyMarlow.co.uk in its original version back in 2000 - yes the internet DID exist back then. Brought up in Marlow, went to school here, now has children at the same schools. Quite clearly loves all things Marlow - hence spending nearly 2 decades doing this!

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