SCHOOL pupils who entered the County Durham Growing Challenge have received green prizes to keep blossoming.

Young growers were invited to take part in The Growing Challenge, arranged by Durham County Council’s waste strategy team in partnership with Durham Community Action’s Growing Durham project, to encourage growing and composting in the community.

A total of 43 schools and five community groups entered to grow the tallest sunflower and the largest pumpkin.

Pupils from Lumley Infant and Nursery School, Chester-le-Street, successfully grew the largest pumpkin weighing in at 6.5kg.

Tracey Wilson, headteacher at the school, said: “We have recently added an allotment and we are really big on outdoor learning. In a time where we are hearing about childhood obesity and young people not being active enough, it is important that the children have the chance to grow produce and learn to harvest.”

Pupils from all year groups helped make pumpkin soup, scooped out and dried the seeds to plant next year, and used grown produce in science lessons.

Children from St Charles RVCA Primary School, Spennymoor, grew the tallest sunflower at 340cm. Year 3 pupil, Aiden, grew the winning entry in his dad’s allotment on behalf of the school.

The children took part in the competition through their Eco Club, which takes place every Tuesday and was recently awarded Silver Eco School status from Keep Britain Tidy. The school is also using an edible growing grant from OASES to develop a kitchen garden.

Both winners received £100 in vouchers to purchase new gardening equipment.

John Shannon, strategic waste manager at Durham County Council, said, “It is great to see young people getting excited about growing their own produce. The competition not only encourages new green skills, but gives wider lessons on healthy eating and how to dispose of waste. Around one third of an average UK household bin can be composted at home, including vegetable peelings, dead flowers, tea bags, eggshells and garden waste.”

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