Two local schools have triumphed in a north-east gardening contest – by growing County Durham’s biggest pumpkin and tallest sunflower.

Early this year, Durham County Council ran a gardening challenge in which 46 schools and 28 community groups competed to grow supersized specimens of these two plants.

The contest was arranged by the council’s waste strategy team in partnership with Durham Community Action’s Growing Durham project.

The winning pumpkin – weighing in at five kilos – was grown by pupils from Escomb Primary’s gardening club. The club – run by teaching assistant Sam Gillis and parent helper Wendy Howe – meets every Wednesday after school.

The winning sunflower – measuring a mighty 375 centimetres – was grown by Cockfield Primary gardening club, which is run by school caretaker David Blackett.

Both schools won £100 of national gardening vouchers, which will enable them to buy new equipment for their gardens.

Escomb Primary gardening club
Pupils from Escomb Primary gardening club with Sam Gillis and Rachel Gatland

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, Cllr Brian Stephens, said, “This challenge helped encourage the local community to get growing and it was great to see so many people enter the competition.”

“Pupils at the winning schools should be proud of their efforts and their prizes will help their gardens go from strength to strength.”

If people get gardening, they can help the environment and reduce waste. It is estimated that around one third of the contents of the average household bin can be composted.

To encourage County Durham’s residents to compost more, the council has teamed up with to offer home compost bins at prices starting from £17.98. A ‘buy one get one half-price’ offer is also available, meaning that a second bin can be obtained for only £8.99.

For more information or to order a bin, please telephone 0844 571 4444 or go to

(The featured image shows pupils from Cockfield Primary gardening club with school caretaker David Blackett and Rachel Gatland.)

Get Durham Magazine direct to your inbox

* indicates required


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here