Growing in the Community

At  Cambo First School we believe that there are many health and educational benefits to growing your own food for school meals and snacks in our school garden. It is fresh, delicious, local, and our children are more likely to taste new/different things if they have grown it themselves.

Cambo First School manage their growing areas organically so no harmful solutions or additives have been used. [A conversation with the garden group lead i.e. SNAG group, should be enough to establish this.] We also have a Gardening Club in school which is run via Helen Boucher on Thursday lunchtime. 

Some people may be concerned about ‘wildlife’ such as slugs, aphids, and fungal diseases. We believe It is important to educate staff, parents, children and the community about these and provide information on the food safety management procedures that are in place to avoid these contaminating foods.

As for more specific land contamination issues it is fairly safe to say that Cambo First School has not, and no school should have been, built on land that has any evidence or record of land contamination.


January 24

Well the gardens and grounds are looking very chaotic and damaged with all of the winds we have had some in excess of 90mph. Still it could be worse! This week has seen Garden Club resume with Helen. So I am sure it will look spick and span and ready for those new seeds and plants in no time at all! It is so nice to see a variety of ages in the gardening club from Reception to Y4!  Once the weather improves we can get those fences painted as it is long overdue!

July 23

Well what a fabulous job the children have done re our planning/planting in the school garden. We are currently harvesting strawberries, peas, cucumbers, potatoes, onions and much more! Most of the harvesting will take place in Sept/Oct with the school allotment. Its good to see the the rewards of our hard work. I am pleased to say that we also plan to paint our garden fence and raised beds [ ECO Council request]. We aimed to do this in July but we just ran out of time, SO … September looks promising!

March 23

Storm Arwen had a lot to answer for with reference to our school garden along with ‘Time and the elements!’ between January and March Johnny B our Co-opted Governor came into school to reinstate the raised beds with new sleepers and to fix the fence. The Gardening Club are currently developing planting plans for after Easter and … we look forward to a summer harvest. Well done everyone!  Mind there is still one job to do…. The children want to paint the fences… several colours were voted upon, rainbow, green, blue, black, brown….  The vote concluded with a ‘Brown’ vote, dark brown, seemingly! so now they just have to wait for the good weather to get everyone painting! Gardening Club meet every Thursday and all are welcome adults and children alike!

September 22

Phew, we held our autumn gardening day on Friday 23rd September. What a beautiful autumnal day! We harvested our tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and courgettes from the poly tunnel. Sorted those green tomatoes from the red tomatoes. The red ones went for school lunch and everyone took home some green tomatoes to ripen in a dark drawer. 

We weeded and chopped back all of our plants  and bushes! WE WERE EXHAUSTED… but more work was to be done in the allotment! Year 4 lifted our onions and potatoes and leeks! Ironically, last year’s year 4s planted the seeds and this year’s year 4 harvested the results!

Well done everyone a super job well done!

Special thanks to Jeff our community gardener and Helen and the Gardening Club Members!

Special thanks also go to Dawn for the lovely scones, biscuits and refreshments!

I did laugh at the end of the day as we held our harvest assembly with the community! One of the children said… ‘I am a broken man, you have broken me Mrs Cummings!’ They did work ever so hard without a single complaint!


May/June 22

Well we had our annual gardening day, phew we were all worn out with tidying, weeding and planting! In the school garden, the poly tunnel and the allotment. There was a lot to do! It was good to get back to normal and by July we should be eating all of our lovely fruit and vegetables! Well done everyone, a super job!

September 21

Well our poly tunnel now has it’s new skin on! Many thanks to Geoff, Luke and Steven for helping out! I know how much hard work went into this! A super community effort and we are so grateful! We are all ready for planting in the spring! But before then…. Geoff has the allotment spic and span but…oh dear we now have to sort the school garden which is a little over grown! [to say the least] But we will get there!

June 21

Well our community garden and polytunnel are all planted up. Our apple trees, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are full of blossom so… Fingers crossed we will get some lovely produce for school. The children are currently growing tomatoes, beans and peas as part of their science project identifying parts of plants, what plants need to grow and growing rates in various soils etc.  Needless to say everyday brings lots of exciting changes!

This year we have not planted up our school polytunnel as we are going to be changing the plastic membrane which is looking worse for wear, mind it has lasted 7 years so it owes us nothing! 

August 20

Well what a change from 2019. No bumper harvest… No harvesting save for a few potatoes. Fingers crossed we can get back to some serious gardening/planting and harvesting in 2021!

27th April 2020

Well what an impact the dreaded COVID 19 is having on our growing community, well in school anyway. Key worker children have planted the school garden with potatoes turnips and carrots as these are things we can use and eat in the autumn term. We have also weeded/cleaned the school garden area and de leafed the pond. There has been so little rain that the pond was just about dried out. We talked and talked about leaving it as rain is forecast but… eventually we had to use the hose to fill it up to acceptable levels.  The poly tunnel too has had a good clean out. Infact there is actually no algae on it anywhere! Sadly there are no tomatoes etc either. Jeff our resident gardner has our allotment spic and span and thankfully he has planted every available space including the poly tunnel so we will have fruit and vegetables to harvest in the Autumn! Well done Jeff!  Our piggies continue to grow and Helen and the Key pupils are feeding them everyday!  We made a lovely muddy hole for them on Friday  and a shower! They thoroughly enjoyed it! Ailsa Dickinson is looking after our hens so all in all a different kind of gardening spring term! I am pleased to say that everyone seems to have done lots of gardening at home, I have had lots of pictures of gardens and gardening. Well done everyone you are doing a sterling job and just think of all that lovely produce in the summer!

7th October 2019

Well… It is that time of year again. Autumn is upon us and before we know where we know Winter will be here! The Garden and the poly tunnel are looking a little sad as the plants begin to die off! This year in school we have successfully grown carrots[best ever-no carrot fly!] peas, lettuce, courgettes, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and grapes. All have been harvested and so this brings me to our Autumn gardening day on the 7th October 2019.  Children will be gardening from 9.30-11.30. Can you please ensure they have old outdoor clothes on, along with wellies. Parents are more than welcome to come along and help us!.

Jobs to be done in school

Empty all the grow bags and planters-put the compost on the strawberries

clear the growing beds in the garden

cut back the shrubs around the pond/garden

General tidy up

The allotment

Jeff our resident community gardener is ready for the Y4s and Kate to come and harvest the onions, tomatoes, beetroot and various brassicas which they planted in the spring. The fruit has already been harvested.

They will also be doing a little weeding for the autumn and cutting back.

If the children have any gardening implements/gloves could you please ensure that they bring them on the day.

June 19

We successfully applied for a grant to develop a new community polytunnel on the school allotment site. This new poly tunnel will enable the school community to grow plants from seeds and cuttings throughout the year.  Well done everyone for helping to build it. The frame is finished and now we just have to get the plastic on. We have missed the initial growing season this year but the tunnel will be more than ready for next year.  We plan to hold a community gardening day to share knowledge, experience, skills and understanding. We can hardly wait!

March 19

Well the new pigs have arrived. One black with a lovely white blaze on its forehead and snout. The other is pink and hairy. Badger and Sheep seem very apt names for them.  They skipped into the enclosure and in no time at all were  rooting around for food. Thankfully the weather is spring like at present so they are able to run around and play. The children and community are very much enjoying their presence and their antics! New safety posters are being developed as we speak to help people know how to behave around our pigs and the parents/children rotas are going in full force. Many thanks to our community volunteers without your  help to feed and care for our pigs we would not be able to have them!

Now that spring is officially here, we can begin the process of getting our garden, allotment and poly tunnel ready for planting! Our first gardening day of the year will take place after Easter, the date has yet to be confirmed, but we do hope the community is able to join us.

We applied for a grant via Community Foundation to develop a community poly tunnel in  the school allotment.  In March 2019 we learnt that our bid had been successful. Fingers crossed with the community we can put this money to good use quickly!

June 18

Well we have gone for trailing/bush tomatoes this year on the whole, less cutting out of side shoots, which, no matter how hard you try to get rid of them, always seem to grow in abundance! The poly tunnel was planted late this year because of the late frost/snow in March so we aren’t expecting to get many tomatoes before late August.

Next year we will have to sort out our planters mind! we couldn’t understand where the water was coming from in the poly tunnel! Well now we know, the plastic has worn and the water runs out in rivers whilst watering! If only we had noticed it on our spring/summer gardening day! But once the planters are filled…

In the garden we are just about harvesting our strawberries! 1 week ago we were just about to harvest our first 7 strawberries, but the birds had other ideas. The children ran out to harvest them, they had been watching them change colour all week, and to their dismay they were eaten! This called for the nets to go over the strawberries. As one child said ‘we don’t mind sharing.. but those birds are just plain greedy, they have eaten every one!’


September 17

Well what a bumper harvest of tomatoes and cucumbers we have had! This year we planted cascading/rambling tomatoes and they have been much more successful. No nipping out of side shoots [which I am sad to say led to lots of greenery and fewer tomatoes last year!] and less disease! PHEW. Dawn is still using the produce in September and there will be lots of green tomatoes for chutneys and ripening in drawers! The pigs went to slaughter in July and we now have lots of pork for lunches across the school year. They were very meaty!  Hopefully they will be very tasty too!

May 17

Well our hens have returned and we now definitely have two female pigs too! We held our spring gardening day  this month and the children worked with great gusto to empty tubs, weed borders, clean the pond and plant seeds! This year we decided to go for low growing  tomatoes so that we don’t have to keep nipping out those side shoots. [the ones we keep missing] Hopefully this year we will have more tomatoes than tomato plant! The children have also been looking at Roman gardens in the past and have planted lots and lots of herbs and garlic. No doubt they will look and taste stunning in our school meals!  Many thanks to everyone who came and helped out on the day. WOW what a difference we made!

March 17

On the 6th March our new Cambo School pigs arrived! Two female pigs as usual, or were they? These little piggies sauntered off the trailer and ran around the enclosure with the children cheering wildly. “Wow” said Milo, one looks like Batman and One looks like Robin! And so it appeared, as one pig had black patches over its eyes; a mask! “They can’t be batman and Robin” said I “these piggies are sows”! But how right they were! These little piggies came with an addition which wasn’t hard to see, but well… need I say anymore! So by law these little piggies have to stay with us for three weeks before we can take them back and get the correct two! The two females that were left behind by mistake!!!! Many thanks to Lindsay and Alan Rutherford who have housed our hens since December 16. The seriousness of the bird flu epidemic meant that all wildfowl had to be kept indoors. Without the Rutherford’s help we would have been totally stuck. We are hoping to have our ladies back a.s.a.p. once DEFRA let us now it is safe.

Sept 16

I am so pleased to say that we have hens at Cambo once more! We have 6 new ladies, and very different and pretty they are too! These hens were kindly donated via Northumbria Police, or rather a Northumbria Police Person! We are eternally grateful. The ladies are now laying and I have to say we have such a variety of colours in our eggs! Dawn in the kitchen is loving them!

We lifted the last of our potatoes and onions in September and used them in our school lunches.

Many thanks to Geoff and all of the people who help or donate vegetables and fruit etc. [our freezer is now full of apples and plums!

July 16

Where has the time gone. I am sad to say that the pigs have now gone to slaughter and will be butchered and back in school for the Autumn term and school meals. Sadly we have not had any eggs this term as our hens were all killed by two terriers in June who managed to get into our hen coup. It was a very sad day and unfortunately we have no idea where the dogs came from. Needless to say staff, children and the community were shocked and upset.  Geoff our resident gardener continues to develop our allotment. The children worked with Geoff to plant the vegetables and we are looking forward to a good harvest in September. The poly tunnel is once again supporting our school meals with cucumbers, courgettes and lettuce. Hopefully we will have tomatoes, peppers and aubergines soon! [weather and sun permitting!]

March 2016

Well our new pigs arrived this month along with our new hens. They have been sorely missed at Cambo! Thankfully all were donated! The hens via Johnny Ballantine and the pigs via the Rising Sun Country Park. All have settled in well and are enjoying the 5 star accommodation and care at Cambo! In March we are also celebrating English Spring Lamb. Simon Bainbridge a local organic farmer is keen to publicise the eating of lamb. As part of this initiative he has donated a whole lamb to Cambo. Thus on the 24th March we are going to be having a very special shepherds pie for lunch cooked via our fabulous school Cook Dawn Lewins. We will also be promoting English Spring lamb in the community with a lovely community lunch  in April.  The weather is much improved at present but it is still a little early to be planting our organic vegetables but fingers crossed we will be having a gardening day soon to get our seeds sown and our plants planted so that we can enjoy them in the summer months for school lunch.

April 23rd 15

Many thanks to everyone for making our Gardening Day such a success. There was so much to do! weeding the garden, planting the bulbs and potatoes, , cleaning the poly tunnel, emptying the containers and putting new compost in to make our tomatoes grow better, cleaning the pond [finding lovely newts! and frogs- a first for us] sweeping the grounds, painting fences and lots lots more. Our reward? Dawn made us a fantastic   piggy lunch [the last of our pigs from 2014!] with a lovely home made apple crumble and custard using our own eggs and Mrs. Pattersons apples from autumn 14.  What a day! Photos to follow!

March 15

Well our new pigs arrived and wow! so pink! but what a hard job we had to find them! female pigs, and we must have female pigs, are just so elusive! But the children have been feeding and watering them and they are already beginning to grow! They also love a bit of a sunbathe so fingers crossed the good weather continues!

April 15.

How quick they grow, we went away for the Easter holidays and came back to two much bigger pigs. Well done everyone on the feeding rota you are doing a sterling job and our lovely ladies in the pig ark and the hen coop are really benefitting from your care! They have also very much found their characters too! and are very playful, constantly chasing each other and frolicking in the water hole! muddy was the order of the day on Gardening day where the temperature was 23 degrees!

farming news     



Ongoing Project

Our Food project has been ongoing for many years. We tend to add a bit at a time! However all development is linked to the school community. At present we are trying to develop organic produce on site thus eliminating or diminishing our carbon footprint. We are also lengthening the growing season, growing  a larger variety of plants for vegetables and fruit, and a larger number via the school garden, allotment and poly tunnel.  We all have an integral part to play in developing the garden e.g .children, staff and community. It is used as part of the curriculum and as free choice. We also have open days for support for the garden. We have a SNAG group in school who lead on developments, and this is chaired via Mrs. Isobel Anderson [TA] in school


As part of our ongoing project we have developed livestock initiativies on the school site. We currently have our own hens and pigs. Hens for eggs and pigs for meat. The children look after and feed the livestock. It is a paying project e.g. it has too break even or make money. We use the meat and eggs in our school lunches. Both are good quality and organic.

livestock project

children (Read-Only)


Information regarding school meals

On the news last night schools were mentioned in the ‘HORSE MEAT’ saga! E.g. schools should be aware of the food they are serving and what it contains. I would like to reassure you that we do know what we are serving.  At Cambo all meals are made freshly prepared, we serve no processed food at all.  With reference to our meat I can tell you with my hand on my heart that all of our meat is provided via Rothbury Butchers.


All of our meat is traceable to british suppliers e.g. Thompson Whitton Le Wear. The animals are all Northumbrian bred and reared. All documentation can be provided.  All parents can go to Rothbury Butchers if they are concerned and details will be provided.I hope this reassures you that we do not serve horsemeat at Cambo, nor processed foods…. We are a flagship food for life school therefore we cannot serve any of the latter. Mind if anyone fancies a bit of horse they tell me that a well known supermarket or two can provide it! I’ve probably eaten a bit of it myself and not known HMMMM!