Budding gardeners at a primary school are looking forward to a bumper crop, thanks to experts at Telford’s renewable energy and battery specialists, AceOn.
Pupils at Sir Alexander Fleming Primary School in Sutton Hill are making good use of a new polytunnel, which has a solar-powered irrigation system supplied by AceOn, which also provided the labour to install the system for free.
John Ratcliffe, Key Stage 2 nurture teacher at Sir Alexander Fleming School, said the children using the nurture room all needed social and emotional support, as well as help to develop life skills such as teamwork, problem solving, confidence, self-esteem, and resilience. Gardening is one of the activities used to help the children develop and learn.
Mr Ratcliffe said: “During lockdown, we took the opportunity to clear the garden, and through lots of sweat and hard work we uncovered 50 sq m of raised beds, repaired and painted the fencing around the plot, and renovated the shed and summer house.
“We then launched ourselves into getting the children into the garden and began having a go at growing on a much larger scale. None of us really knew what we were doing, so it was very much trial and error, but great fun!
“The polytunnel is going to make a huge impact in our garden. It will extend our growing season, enable us to grow plants from seed and establish a mini enterprise scheme selling seedlings, develop new skills such as propagation techniques like taking cuttings, and explore new science and technology in the field of growing food.
“This is where the very welcome help from AceOn Group comes in. It exposes the children to irrigation techniques – as well as the technology used to run and monitor it. Being renewable energy, it also promotes the importance of using these energy sources, allowing the children to see how they work first-hand.
“It gives a “real-life” chance to develop and use skills such as team work, communication, creativity, problem solving and aiming high.
“Amy and James at AceOn have been so enthusiastic to jump onboard our project and help, it has really inspired us to raise our ambitions. We have thoughts already of developing a hydroponics system in the future, adding solar power to our wildlife garden to enable us to develop a wildlife-watching channel in school, as well as powering a range of water features to create a series of small ponds with interlinking waterways. The ideas are piling up and it’s very exciting!”
The polytunnel project has now earned a level five Royal Horticultural Schools Gardening Award – the highest possible – to go with level three and four awards earned previously.
Mark Thompson, AceOn Group managing director, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to help Sir Alexander Fleming School to complete this forward-thinking project.
“The children will be able to learn some valuable skills while growing their crops, as well as getting active – and, of course, they will get some delicious and healthy produce to eat!
“Using solar energy to power the water pumps means the polytunnel is very environmentally-friendly as well as having very low running costs, which is important as the school looks to manage its budget.
“I’m glad that we could provide the labour for this project for free and do our bit to help the gardeners of tomorrow.”
AceOn supplied two water pumps, an 80-watt solar panel and all the hoses and controllers for the project.
AceOn has more than 30 years’ experience in the design and manufacture of custom-built battery packs and the distribution of industrial and consumer batteries to the worldwide market. The energy division provides a training, service and distribution centre to offer a full turnkey solution for residential and commercial battery energy storage systems.
The group has built a reputation as being specialists in solar and battery technology, particularly the development of bespoke, custom-built battery packs.