Eliza Street, Belfast, Antrim BT7 2BJ
Our school was built in 1987 on the site of the Old Markets. We found a beautiful school surrounded by landscape gardener planted trees. The side of the grounds consisted of a teacher car park with two areas of open grass. While these looked quite nice in a built-up area with a dearth of greenery, they were useless to our school. Because of the proximity of the cars, it could not even be used as a football pitch.
Around this same time, the R.S.P.B. were conducting a nationwide bird survey. We of course were very anxious to participate and organised our own survey. After three wasted sessions when the only birdlife seen was the occasional passing seagull, we contacted the R.S.P.B seeking an explanation. They informed us that the absence of birds in The Markets area was probably due to a lack of trees for roosting – nothing from the Ormeau Park to the City Hall.
In 1997, Belfast became involved in a tree planting scheme where trees were being given to interested parties, We decided then to try to develop a garden.
Why did we create a garden?
· Research has shown that if the everyday environment is poor, children have a lower value of self worth.
· Children have difficulty in comprehending the need to look after the environment if the state of the school grounds does not mirror what is being taught in the classroom.
· The very act of creating a wildlife area increases how children perceive their environment in a positive way and thus care for it.
So ………….. in 1998 the project began. We were keen but really clueless on where to start. However fortune favours the brave ( or so they say) and this proved true when very good fortune sent us Andy Smith. Andy was volunteering with the Conservation Volunteers and was seeking a project and here we were. We planned the outline design of what we wanted to achieve, contacted Ben Simon of the Forest of Belfast campaign and took delivery of 300 young trees. So each child in our school, from nursery to Primary 7 planted a tree. And so the story begins!