Sunflower Challenge Ends on a High

The Rural Connect West Lothian Schools’ Sunflower Challenge ended on a high for some schools last week when they picked up their prizes for the tallest sunflower.

Rural Connect and Dobbies Garden Centres worked in partnership with pupils from Broxburn Academy Nurture Group to grow the sunflowers with local schools. The challenge began earlier this year, when a gardening training session was held for teachers at SRUC’s Oatridge Campus, and each teacher was given their own sunflower seedling to take back to school to look after with the help of their pupils.

The project also worked in partnership with two West Lothian teachers from Boghall Primary School, Clare Thacker and Lynsey O’Neil, to produce online learning resources on sunflower growing which complimented the learning outcomes from Curriculum for Excellence .

Over 40 primary, nursery and special schools signed up the Sunflower Challenge. The tallest flower grown in the primary school category won £300 to spend in Dobbies, with the nursery school and special school categories each winning £100.

The participating schools were also tasked with investigating the best method of growing a sunflower and asked to produce a growing diary which illustrated each of the stages involved in producing their tallest sunflower.

The winners are:

Nursery School Category: Broxburn Pre-School Playgroup: 2.11m.

Primary School Category: Torphichen Primary: 2.66m.

Special Schools Category: Cedarbank: 2.8m.

Each of the schools are looking to harvest their Russian Giant sunflower heads and either sell on their seed as part of a school enterprise project, or distribute them to students next year in their own school sunflower growing competition.

Russell Smith, Rural Connect Project Worker who managed the challenge, said: ‘It was a brilliant challenge to be involved in, I heard a lot of great stories about the various schools’ attempts to grow the tallest sunflower and just want to congratulate the winners on a job well done. I hope all the schools who took part found the challenge both an educational experience and as well as good fun, and I hope it encourages more schools to take up gardening and outdoor activities. They provide a connection to nature that will stay with children for the rest of their lives’.

The Rural Connect Project, funded by LEADER, Lottery Heritage, and SRUC, is a two year project aiming to engage West Lothian residents with their local rural environment and heritage. They are working to get groups and individuals to grow their own flowers and vegetables on a seasonal basis and so reap the rewards of a healthy home grown lifestyle.

Information on gardening and healthy eating can be found on the Rural Connect website:


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