We're always keen to share our hands-on growing experience with others, and to support our local community - and this was an opportunity too good to miss.

Our horticulturist Martin Fiddes takes up the story in his own words below...


An innovative gardening-based project at one of Suffolk’s leading community schools is nearing the first stage of completion – and local mail order company Harrod Horticultural are delighted to have been heavily involved as a business partner.

The Garden of Excellence scheme at Kirkley Community High School in Lowestoft – former pupils include Justin Hawkins of Darkness fame and more recently, Rock School find and teenage pop phenomenon Lil’ Chris – was conceived in September 2006 and since, a number of young people, business partners and community members, led by Kirkley staff David Banks and Simon Tarr, have worked on transforming an area of land within the school into a productive garden.

Students have given up their own time both after school and on Saturday mornings to transform the derelict site into a fertile garden capable of producing fruit, vegetables and even cut flowers later in the year. All produce is earmarked for sale in the school – recently awarded DfES Sports College status.

Harrod Horticultural’s Managing Director, Stephanie Harrod, has more than a passing interest in the Garden of Excellence project. “As a former pupil of the school, I’m delighted to see the progress made recently and establishing a growing area between the school buildings is a wonderful idea. We’re more than happy to donate our products to a scheme such as this, which not only introduces the students to horticulture but also equips them with business and marketing skills.”

Martin Fiddes, Head of Harrod Horticultural’s own Kitchen Garden project, was also pleased to see the garden evolving. “I think it’s wonderful that a piece of waste ground will soon be producing fruit, vegetables and even flowers, and it just goes to show that even a small area is worth cultivating.” He added; “I’m just pleased to have been involved with giving advice and recommending suitable Harrod Horticultural products.”

Other local companies, such as Travis Perkins, also contributed to the project by supplying sand, timber and building materials, whilst a financial donation from the Barclays Bank Community Fund has been used to purchase equipment which will form part of an environmentally friendly irrigation system for the garden, powered by solar panels.

Further funding, secured through Regional Co-Operative, means the school are able to bring in trainers from First Question who, along with the students, will produce a model of co-operative working based on the Garden of Excellence. Students will also work competitively on innovative ideas that will impact on the garden.

The Garden of Excellence project is an exciting initiative for all the partners involved and plans are underfoot to re-develop other areas within the school with the students taking a lead role.