Sam Gardiner MLA has visited Abercorn Primary School in Banbridge with the judges of the Primary School Gardening Competition he sponsors.
Mr Gardiner awards a £1,000 first prize to the best schools each year and the competition started in 2011. There are also runner-up prizes.
The idea behind the competition is to encourage Primary School children to ‘grow their own’.
In Year One Andrews Memorial Primary School in Comber were the winners with a Titanic themed garden.
In year two Carrick Primary Schools in Lurgan were the winners. Over 60 schools have entered the competition since it started.
“We had a great visit to Abercorn Primary School in the town and were most impressed with the school and the welcome we received,” he said.
“It was our first visit of the day and we went on to visit another three schools on that same day. There has been enormous interest in the competition.”
Mr Gardiner continued: “I want this competition to make a real difference and encourage a whole new generation of gardeners. Being able to grow your own will not only save money, it is a healthy past-time. It also keeps children away from computer screens, and computer chat rooms.
“We find that the parents of the primary age children are a lost generation to gardening. Very often schools have to seek out help from grandparents when they start their school gardens.
“I learnt how to garden in school and the skill has never left me though with the busy life of an MLA, I don’t get much time to practice it nowadays.
“Some of the best gardens are in schools in towns and in schools in the middle of big housing estates. That is really encouraging.
“I wish Abercorn Primary all the best in the competition. I know the judges were impressed.
“I leave the judging to a panel of judges who include Kyle Geddis of Hoophill Nurseries, Waringstown, Leslie Cree MLA, my assembly colleague from North Down, who is an avid gardener, and David McNarry MLA another Assembly colleague who is also a keen gardener.
“I want to thank the Judges who give so freely of their time and energy,” he concluded.