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Archbishop Opens Eco-Garden at Archbishop Sumner C of E Primary School, London

The Archbishop planting a bottlebrush tree

Monday 16th June 2008

The Archbishop Sumner Church of England Primary School in Lambeth, London, invited the Archbishop to formally open their new eco-garden, designed to 'acknowledge its history and future as part of God's world'.

The garden is planted with various fruit-bearing trees and vegetable patches, as well as plants. Still in development, there are future plans for a greenhouse and further trees and fruit bushes to be added.

Arriving on foot from nearby Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop was welcomed by lively music, created by steel pans and African drums, played by the children.

The Head Teacher, Ursula Ovenden, greeted the Archbishop by saying:

"We hope at least that this will be a relaxing occasion for you amid the many demanding requirements you have in your life.

The garden has been a project we have been thinking about for several years and we are delighted with its progress. Special thanks go to the designers, Boxtree designers, and Chestnut Constructions who have done a marvellous job putting it together. And also further thanks go to the staff who are already enjoying it and the children who have planted so much already....We hope that this garden will be enjoyed for many years by the children of this school, the staff, the parents, the community and the whole of north Lambeth."

Some pupils of the school also gave their views on how the garden is important to them:

Children from Abp Sumner School"The eco garden is important to us because it is helping us in our learning and teaching us how to look after the plants properly. We need to look after plants because without them the world could be a dull place and we need them for food and oxygen."

"I like our eco garden because it is big and we can grow more stuff and we can learn about all sorts of plants. We can grow more plants and grow more fruit trees. I like a plum tree and a pineapple tree and coconut trees and apple trees and a pear tree!"

"We have an eco garden because we can have a really beautiful school. We have an eco garden because our flower beds – not beds that we sleep in! – have vegetables."

"I like the eco garden because I can plant seeds and watch them grow into flowers. In Year One we are growing different plants. I like the scarecrow as it keeps our plants safe. We enjoy working in the outside space."

The Archbishop revealed a plaque before planting a Bottlebrush tree in the garden.

He then addressed the children, teachers and parents and ended the visit with a tour of the school.

Read a transcript of the Archbishop's address below, or click download on the right to listen [4Mb]

"Well good morning everybody.

It's really wonderful to be able to share this occasion with you and it's been marvellous to hear the singing and the music and see that wonderful dance which I think everybody really enjoyed, yes? And to be able to unveil the plaque. But, the really important thing of course is the garden, which is already looking wonderful. In weather like this you'd expect it to.

But I want to talk to you just for a moment about why it might be important to remember what the garden teaches us. I was thinking about – you know - when you get a new toy and it's usually wrapped up in plastic, isn't it? Lots of plastic around it, often very hard to get off? I guess parents know what it's like to try and get plastic off a new toy – all those little things to cut and fiddle with. But, what's different between toys and us is we don't come wrapped up in plastic do we? We come as flesh and blood, open to the air and the sun and the rain. And we grow and we keep healthy as human beings; as we haven't got plastic all around us, we can feel the sun, we can breathe the air and we can feel the rain that fills the rivers that give us the water. So all the things we need are around us. And that means that if we want to look after ourselves and if want to look after each other, we need to look after the world around us. We need to make sure there's plenty of fresh air. We need to make sure that the rain comes down so that things grow for us to eat. We need to make sure that we really breathe and walk out into the sun. We need the light and the air and the water. And when we work in a garden like this we remind ourselves, "That's what we need!" And that's what the whole world needs. And if we look after the world around us, remember, it's a way of looking after ourselves and looking after one another. But the great thing also is of course that this is God's way of looking after us – the sun and the air and the rain coming down are all part of how God makes a world where we can grow and where we can be healthy and where we can help each other.

So, if we look after the world around us then God looks after us through that world.

It's something that we often forget and for many hundreds of years lots of people have forgotten it. And they used the world in very bad ways; and so we've got lots of pollution, we've got dirty water and polluted air and sometimes you can't even see the sun because of the clouds. So, we look after this world so that God will look after us. And when we look after this little bit of the world here in the garden, that's what we're thinking of. So, I think it's wonderful you've done this, there's lots of really exciting things to do here and it just looks very, very beautiful.

And so I hope, as you enjoy how beautiful it is, you will think about how to use the world around, so that you can look after yourself and each other, and so that God can look after you. Thanks for letting me be with you this morning.

Now, I've been asked if I'll do a little word of blessing to finish off, so if you'd like to close your eyes and put your hands together again, to just say a prayer to finish:

Dear God,

You've made this world to be beautiful and to be useful to us. You've made this world a place where you look after us, with the sun and the air and the rain. We ask you, this morning, "Bless this garden and bless all the things that go on in this school. Bless everybody here and keep them safe; look after them and help them look after each other. And look after this garden as well. And help every body who visits this school and sees this garden; remember that you are a loving God who looks after us day after day in our lives." We give you thanks for all that you give us, we pray for your help every day of our lives, Amen."

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