School Gardeners of the Year 2019 Finalists

Discover the gardening superstars who have made it into the final of our competition!


RHS Young School Gardener of the Year

KS1/P1-2 Finalists

Zekey Benitah - Key Stage 1 Winner
Aged 5 from Nancy Reuben Primary School, London

It was Zekey’s idea to start a school garden by transforming empty patches into a blooming garden. He helps other children to care for the space and together they grow a huge range of produce.

Joseph Trofer-Cook
Aged 6 from Walcott Primary School, Lincoln

Joe was initially hesitant to get involved in the garden at school, but quickly began to thrive. Despite his quiet nature, he’s happy to show others how to work in the garden and gets stuck in, no matter what the job in hand!

Freddie Pickerill
Aged 5 from Costock CofE Primary School, Loughborough

Freddie is an enthusiastic member of gardening club – he even keeps his wellies at school, just in case! He is a garden monitor for his class and can always be relied upon to take his duties seriously.

KS2/P3-6 Finalists

Jessica Harding
Aged 10 from Countess Anne CofE Academy, Hertfordshire

Jessica has been a member of the school gardening club since she was two years old. She became Head Gardener at age six because of her knowledge and enthusiasm. Jessica loves to share her skills with her friends, and encourages them to try eating raw, school-grown vegetables!

Oliver Cairns
Aged 10 from St Lucy's Primary School, Cumbernauld

Oliver was reluctant to join the gardening club at first, but is now constantly reading and learning about horticulture and has turned his classroom into a nursery, where he shares his knowledge with his friends.

William Rae - Young School Gardener of the Year 2019
Aged 10 from The Edinburgh Academy Junior School, Edinburgh

William spends break times tending to the school plot and carrying out any gardening jobs that need doing. He set up a garlic growing competition to encourage other students to get out in the garden, and launched this in a whole school assembly.

Nick Whiskard
Aged 9 from Hollinhey Primary School, Cheshire

Nick is a founder member of his school gardening club. He finds gardening very rewarding and loves watching tiny seeds grows into beautiful plants. He is looking forward to designing the garden in his new house when he moves.

Ella Darch
Aged 10 from Fourfields Community Primary School, Peterborough

Ella is one of the smallest members of gardening club, but one of the mightiest! She is a Head Gardener at her school and has lots of valuable gardening knowledge and skills.


KS3/P7&S1-2 Finalists

Calen Ford - Key Stage 3 Winner
Aged 13 from Reddish Hall School, Stockport

Calen is a keen gardener in and out of school, and is able to assist younger children in the garden and share his skills. He is going to be enrolled on a horticulture course next year and will work towards a national qualification.

Lucas Richards
Aged 12 from Ryde Academy, Isle of Wight

Lucas has always been a passionate gardener. He has won numerous local gardening competitions and entered Ryde in Bloom a number of times. He has recently helped to set up a gardening club at his school.

Tyler Wilkes
Aged 13 from Community Environmental Trust, Birmingham

Tyler went from having zero gardening knowledge to being a young expert in a matter of months, by spending time in his weekly youth club. He researches plants in his own time and brings information back to share with the group.

Chloe Moorhead
Aged 12 from Francis Combe Academy, Watford

Chloe joined the gardening club in January 2019 and has shone from day one. She loves caring for the environment and the garden is a place where she can express herself away from the classroom.

KS4/S3-4 Finalists

Aiden Ennis - Key Stage 4 Winner
Aged 15 from Redwood Park Academy, Hampshire

For Aiden, the school garden is a peaceful place, where he can take time out and work on a project he loves. He is the school’s Head Boy and has played a key role in the garden’s development, carrying out various jobs and looking after the chickens.

Hayleigh Patterson
Aged 15 from Linwood High School, Renfrewshire

Hayleigh has been the driving force behind much of the work in the school garden. Despite recent health problems, her passion for nature has not wavered, and she continues to inspire others to get outside and grow!

Kristian Foxley
Aged 15 from Pershore High School, Worcestershire

The school garden has helped to boost Kristian’s confidence and his passionate for the natural world is clear. He is working towards his RHS Level 1 award and wants to continue studying horticulture in the future.

Joshua Clark
Aged 16 from Walney School, Cumbria

Josh loves getting involved in wildlife activities in the school garden. He has carried out environmental surveys of the outdoor space to examine local biodiversity, and created areas where wildlife can thrive.

School Gardening Champion of the Year

Sara Ward
Deputy Head Teacher from Coltishall Primary School, Norfolk

In 2018, alongside her teaching commitments, Mrs Ward accepted a large allotment on behalf of the school and galvanised staff, students and families to muck in and transform the space into a flourishing plot. Mrs Ward gave up a lot of her own time to develop the plot and has ensure that all the children in the school have benefitted from it, physically and emotionally. She has forged links with local businesses and brought the community together through the space. As one parent said, “ Do you ever sleep, Mrs Ward? You deserve a medal!”

Michelle Jones - School Gardening Champion of the Year
Parent volunteer from Ashmount Primary School, London

Michelle has been the driving force behind the re-establishment of the Ashmount gardening club. Her gardening story began when she decided to educate herself and her family about where their food comes from. As they lived in a flat, Michelle rallied neighbours and the council to create a thriving community garden nearby. She also breathed new life in to the garden at her son’s school and encouraged around 50 other families to get involved in weekly sessions with a true community feeling.

Luke Evans
Head of Science from St Anthony's School, Kent

Luke has worked tirelessly with disadvantaged students and believes that hands on, outdoor learning can transform students who have only experienced failure in the classroom. He and his group have helped to plant hundreds of native trees in the local area and created new habitats for wildlife. Thanks to Luke, students at the school can now take a qualification in land based horticulture for the first time, and students are able to volunteer to help out at the local forest school and woodland. Luke set up a community forest school a few years ago, to bring the community together.

Meryl Batchelder
Teacher from Corbridge Middle School, Northumberland

Meryl is incredibly enthusiastic about encouraging students to become green-fingered. All Year 7 and 8 pupils are involved in gardening and learn invaluable skills through Meryl. A team of students from the school won the RHS Green Plan It challenge in 2017 and went on to create the sensory garden they designed within their school grounds. Meryl is an ambassador for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and ensure that pupils understand the links between gardening and the wider world. She has also set up a partnership with Northumbria University to raise awareness of the importance of pollinating insects and has plans to convert some of the school grounds into a wildflower meadow.

School Gardening Team of the Year

Springhallow School, London - School Gardening Team of the Year

The gardening team at Springhallow have Special Educational Needs and have absolutely blossomed outdoors! The garden has allowed this to overcome some of the challenges of autism and gives them a shared focus to develop their individual interests whilst supporting each other. The group have turned an unused classroom into a café, to encourage healthy eating. They put cut flowers they’d grown on the tables, and sold organic food they’d grown to staff, parents and pupils as part of ‘The Barrow Market’.

St James' RC Primary School, Kent

The garden at St James’ was the brainchild of the Student Council, who wanted a space to grow their own produce. A Garden Council was formed to bring the garden to life, and a plan for the outdoor space was drawn up by the children. The Garden Council have a suggestion pot in the school hall for all students to use. They meet on a monthly basis to discuss all aspects of the garden and bring forward all the students’ wishes. All year groups now have space to grow outdoors and the school are aiming to be plastic free and environmentally conscious.

Youth in Nature, Hull

Young people in the Youth in Nature group live in some of the most deprived areas of the UK. Together, they have established a growing space at a local allotment site, with the young people designing and developing the area themselves. They regularly take part in community events, such as the Hull Harvest Festival and family fun days, where they share their plant knowledge with others and show how gardening can benefit the natural environment. The local council has been so impressed by their hard work, that they have awarded Youth in Nature three more allotment plots to work on.

Downlands Community School, Hassocks

Faced with school grounds that needed improving, the gardening club at Downlands researched garden design and conducted online surveys to gather ideas about how it could be transformed. They went on to produce their own design for the space, then secured support and funding to create it for real, drawing in help from other students and the local community. The garden is purely ornamental and is a calm place where students can relax and socialise. It has become embedded in daily school life and is well used by all.


Meet our overall winners

Young School Gardener of the Year 2019
William Rae

School Gardening Champion of the Year 2019
Michelle Jones

School Gardening Team of the Year 2019
Springhallow School

About Hartley Botanic:

Hartley Botanic is a historic Greenhouse and Glasshouse manufacturer based in Greenfield, Lancashire. The company was founded in 1938 by brothers Vincent (RHS fellow) and Norman Hartley following their groundbreaking aluminium Greenhouse design – to our knowledge, the UK’s first aluminium Greenhouse. Today, Hartley Botanic’s reputation has been built on 80 years of British craftmanship, creating handmade Greenhouse and Glasshouse structures known for their enduring strength, quality and performance. It is the greenhouse manufacturer of choice for the UK’s leading horticulture organisations, institutions and designers with ‘Hartleys’ commissioned by the RHS, the National Trust, Kew Gardens, Blenheim Palace, The Lingholm Estate and Hampton Court name a few. Hartley Botanic is the only aluminium Greenhouse and Glasshouse manufacturer endorsed by the RHS.
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