A project initiated by some of our regular volunteers, this project was devised as a pilot for developing a format that the garden could use going forward to work more directly with schools.
A cereal is a grass with edible seeds. As a group, they form the staple foods of the world, giving us bread (including naan and chapatis), rice, corn on the cob, popcorn, biscuits, cakes, pies, breakfast cereals, beer and many other products. They form at least a third of our daily diet. But, as plants, most of us can’t tell one from the other.
The Cereal Project’s aim is to change that. We are growing small quantities of the cereals side by side, so we can distinguish between the cereals as they mature.
Living Fields in Scotland supplied some of the seeds. One of which is Emmer Wheat. This is not grown now but dates back more than eleven thousand years to the first arable farming, which occurred in the Middle East. We thought it would be fascinating to grow this historical wheat side by side with a modern variety. We have been given a Canadian wheat supplied by Prairie Garden Seeds in Saskatchewan. They also supplied Teff, such an unusual crop for us in the UK, that we just had to grow it.
The cereals we are growing:
1) Wheat, Emmer (Triticum dicoccum)
2) Wheat, Red Fife (Triticum aestivum)
3) Barley, Concerto (Hordeum vulgare)
4) Rye, White (Secale cereale)
5) Oats, Bell (Avena sativa)
6) Maize, Dwarf multi coloured (Zea mays)
7) Maize, Sweet Corn (Ambrosia) (Zea mays cultivar)
8) Rice (Oryza sativa)
9) Teff (Eragrostis Tef)
Wanting to get away from plastic pots, we came up with cardboard boxes as plant containers. This has been done before as we found online, but not by us. How would the boxes fare over a season? They are easily repairable, and, if they break, a box can go in another box. An added bonus is that they are free.
So let’s see how they fare. And prove whether they can be used in our home gardens for annual vegetables like carrots when space is limited. They can be decorated in bright colours to really stand out. And when weathered and crumpled, at the end of the season, they can go on the compost heap.
We worked in partnership with Azhaar Academy, delivering workshops with the pupils at the school and in the garden. The cross-curricular project explored elements of science, history and growing, introducing pupils to the garden as a local resource with many returning with friends and family.
Many thanks go to our volunteer Derek who led on this project and Lia who documented the progress.
Kindly supported by: