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Manchester Environmental Education Network

Save Our Soils

Working in inner city school grounds has highlighted the troubles faced by our soils with two key issues being identified: contaminated land and impoverished soils. Issues of soil impoverishment are commonplace in cities especially where new build schools have been built on top of the rubble of old schools. Contaminated ground is less likely to occur in a school setting but the industrial inheritance, particularly in inner cities can raise issues which could impact on children's health. 

Meanwhile, schools in post-industrial cityscapes are pushing to extend their outdoor learning, health and play opportunities through such programmes as food growing and Forest Schools. These activities are vital as a means for dealing with childhood health issues from obesity to malnutrition and for supporting children’s sense of well-being but soil health also needs to be addressed.

Working with a range of experts, including the University of Salford, the University of Manchester, Debdale Eco Centre, construction firms, growers and local Councillors, the project intends to help people learn about soils, improve soils and consider new ways of working in school grounds.

This project is intended to make sure pupils are safe and that their perceptions of soil shift from being described as 'dirt' to becoming a valuable resource we can learn to improve. The project cannot claim to ‘reclaim’ contaminated soils - this would be a very big and expensive task - but it works with schools to develop short and potentially longer-term sustainable solutions. 

Phase 1 Save Our Soils

During the first phase of Save Our Soils we captured the activities and many of the pupils experiences on film.  Listen to what some of the pupils engaged in the project had to say on the issues.


MEEN has provided case studies based on the experiences in each of the three participating schools in phase 1:

For the Medlock Primary case study click here.

For the Claremont Primary case study click here.

For the Ravensbury Primary case study click here.

We would like to thank Awards for All, the Postcode Lottery Trust, Garfield Weston and The Ernest Cook Trust for funding phase 1 of the project.

Phase 2 Save Our Soils

After the success of phase 1 of the Save Our Soils programme Raichael Lock worked with three primary schools as a part of a PhD research project. The research explores human/soil intra-actions in three Manchester primary schools and asks what difference the programme makes to the various participants including both the pupils and the soils in the school grounds.

If you would like to read more please click here.

We would like to thank ESRC for the research funding for phase 2 of the project.

Donations welcome

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