School girls and boys embrace biodiversity

Sian Moloughney

Sian Moloughney

The future of the environment in Cashel looks to be in safe hands, with the expert gardening and recycling skills developed by the young pupils of the girls’ and boys’ primary schools and the secondary school in the town.

Between the three primary schools the town has no less than seven green flags! The girls’ school has been awarded three - for litter and waste reduction, for water conservation and for energy conservation; both the boys’ primary school and the Deanery school have been awarded two each - both for litter and waste reduction and for energy conservation.

“The children in the schools are fantastic,” so says Maureen Derby, who liaises with the schools on behalf of Cashel Tidy Towns. She says there is also a great enthusiasm from the teachers in the schools. An eight-year veteran of Cashel Tidy Towns committee Maureen says that sometimes she is inspired by the work of the boys and girls.

In the girls school just one example of their work in reducing, reusing and recycling is that they have reduced the number of their refuse bins from eight to two. They compost all organic waste and it is used in the school’s fruit and vegetable garden.

A stand-out feature of the girls’ garden is a greenhouse that they have constructed entirely from recycled plastic bottles! Parents helped and local group Aimsir Bia helped with the planting in the garden and greenhouse, and use the greenhouse to bring on seedlings which some of the girls then take home to grow.

The school pupils also take part in the Co Council’s ‘black spot’ competition - where they choose an area that is known as a litter black spot and help to clean it up. Maureen says the local Tidy Towns group help in pointing out the areas that could do with some help. “It’s fantastic what they do,” she told The Nationalist.

Last year Cashel Community School also came on board with the Tidy Towns group when the woodwork class made bird boxes and presented them to the local committee. The woodwork class made them again this year and presented them to the primary schools.

At the moment the secondary school in taking part in a poster competition to discourage chewing gum litter. Judging is ongoing but when the winner is chosen the poster will be reproduced and hopefully hung in shops where gum is on sale, Maureen explains. The students have been very enthusiastic. They are also planning to carry out a waste minimisation survey in the town which the Tidy Towns committee can use and include in their application form for the national Tidy Towns competition.

The national organisation is very much in favour of schools becoming involved with Tidy Towns.

One of the exciting projects coming up for Tidy Towns and the schools is a biodiversity project, which has been grant aided by LEADER. The Irish Wildife Trust will carry out this survey. Last week development office Joanne Pender, from the IWT, visited Cashel and spoke to the school children and the Tidy Towns committee. She also took the pupils on a ‘field trip’ in the school grounds to show them how to look for insects and plants, and explained what to look out for.

Maureen says the biodiversity survey will be used to help the Tidy Towns plan planting that will protect wildlife in the area. “We know what we should do but this will tell us how to do it properly.”

Another upcoming project will be the planting of a wildflower meadow by the pupils, in the green area close ot the schools.

The schools have also been supported in their environmental efforts by Aimsir Bia who have planted 150 fruit trees in the schools.