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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:

1) The problem of contaminated land which prevents schools from eating produce they grow directly in the ground due to soil contamination;

2) The problem that many inner city school grounds only have a very thin layer of top soil which has been added to cover up hard core making it difficult to grow anything other than grass.

First of all listen to what some of the pupils engaged in the project had to say on the issues.


For further information about the work with the schools here are some case studies:

For the Medlock Primary case study click here.

For the Claremont Primary case study click here.

For the Ravensbury Primary case study click here.

Issues of soil impoverishment are commonplace in cities where new build schools have been built on top of the rubble of old schools and, in some cases,on contaminated land. Simultaneously 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 Debdale Eco Centre and a range of other experts, including the University of Salford, the University of Manchester, construction firms, growers and local Councillors, the project extends learning on soils and helps schools build and implement an action plan.

This project is intended to make sure pupils are safe in their grounds and that they change their perception of soil so it becomes 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 will work with schools to develop short and potentially longer-term sustainable solutions. 

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

Donations welcome

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