Grow Well, Feel Well – summer summit

Photo credit: Capital Growth

Grow Well, Feel Well

Join Food Growing Schools: London partner Capital Growth on Wednesday 5 July for their summer summit all about health, well-being and growing food in the city.

From mindfulness and garden design, to growing nutrient rich plants and therapeutic horticulture, the afternoon will include workshops and speakers on a variety of topics, plus time to enjoy the onsite permaculture garden and meet other attendees.

Tickets available via Eventbrite or visit the Capital Growth website for more info.

Value your school grown produce

Once you’ve got your food growing underway, why not celebrate your efforts by finding out the value of all that you’ve grown?

How much does your garden grow? Use the Harvest-ometer to find out!
How much does your garden grow? Use the Harvest-ometer to find out!

Food Growing Schools: London partner Capital Growth have developed a simple tool to track what your school grows in kilograms and pounds. It also produces graphs, perfect for motivating volunteers and pupils, and showcasing your work to the school and parents!

During the first two seasons of the Harvest-ometer over 189 growing spaces grew enough food to contribute to a whopping 502,000 meals, weighing over 40 tonnes and valued at £288k.  Capital Growth also found an estimated £2.4m of food is being grown each year across their network, which includes community growing spaces, as well as schools.

Harvest-ometer facts

Salads, squash, courgettes and potatoes are the most popular crops being grown in London.

The average yield per Square metre is just less than £3.50 per square meter.

How can schools and growing spaces get involved?

To use the Harvest-ometer sign in or sign up to the Capital Growth member’s area and click on ‘The Harvest-ometer Challenge.’

If you have any questions, big or small, just get in touch with maddie@sustainweb.org

Need help to get growing? Join a Capital Growth training session and check out the FGSL Resources.

Four steps to managing your garden pests

Sharing your garden with nature is part of gardening and even in the best managed fruit and veg gardens, natural pests and predators will present themselves, but they needn’t be a problem.

Follow Capital Growth’s four simple steps to manage your pests: Protect, Remove, Repel, Prevent.

pests-and-diseases1. PROTECT your plants using cut plastic bottles around the seedling to prevent pests from reaching the plant.

2. REMOVE the pest by manually taking off those you can see.

By taking off the top of broad beans if they’re covered in aphids (greenfly, blackfly, plant lice) the plant has a chance to grow and produce beans.

Take a look at the RHS advice on Aphids.

Create a ‘slug and snail hunt’ and re-locate the culprits outside your garden- at least a few 100 yards away. Check out Garden Organic’s information on how to prevent and remove slugs, along with fascinating facts. Who knew there are over 100 different species of slugs and snails in the UK!.

Scare away birds by hanging fabric or CDs near your plants – we’ve found some bird control methods here.

Make your own owl sun catcher to scare the birds
Make your own owl sun catcher to scare the birds

3. REPEL using natural methods

Garlic spray is great for all aphids (and safe to use, just watch your eyes) and easy to prepare; put one crushed garlic clove with the skin left on into 1 litre of boiling water. Cool and strain and you have a very effective spray.

Get rid of pests with garlic

Got a problem with the fast-growing fungus that is mildew? Powdery mildews attack a wide range of plants, causing a white, dusty coating on leaves, stems and flowers.

Use milk to prevent powdery mildew

4. PREVENT any more pests from coming in.

Limit pest habitats like planks of wet wood on the ground which harbour slugs and snails and promote pests by offering them habitats. Have a hedgehog house, a bat and a bird box nearby, make solitary bee boxes and leave an untidy patch to attract more beneficial insects.

Avoid pesticides, encourage wildlife

Get more great advice from Green Gardener and our friends at the RHS, who have a helpful A-Z of pests and solutions. And join a Capital Growth training session.

The Big Dig is back!

The Big Dig 2017 - Capital GrowthSaturday 22 April 2017

” The spirit of the Big Dig is what community gardening is all about “

Join Capital Growth and gardens across the capital to kick off the growing season on this annual volunteer open day. Every spring, hundreds of volunteers pull on their wellies and head outside to help community gardens get ready to grow.

In 2016, in London over 40 gardens took part, welcoming over 750 volunteers to help shovel compost, build trellises, plant seedlings and enjoy a hard day’s work in the company of friends and neighbours.

The Big Dig across the UK

The Big Dig started as an event run by Capital Growth in 2012 to engage volunteers in their local food-growing space. It was initially funded as a nationwide project, managed by Sustain, recruiting 7,500 new volunteers to take part in community gardening.

The network continues to work with cities in the UK. Community gardens in London, Manchester and Birmingham can register for their local Big Dig 2017 via their city’s Big Dig Map.

Find out more: www.bigdig.org.uk

Discover more London school food growing workshops and events: here.

Lessons in Loaf: London launched

Photo: Real Bread Campaign
Photo: Real Bread Campaign

The Real Bread Campaign, run by our friends at Sustain, have teamed up with Grow Your Own Playground to guide schoolchildren across the capital on a year-long journey from seed to sandwich.

The hands-on project sees school food growing expert Cassie Liversidge visit each school to share with classes of up to 60 pupils the fact that Real Bread starts life in a field, not a factory.

During the exciting educational experience, pupils roll up their sleeves to plant wheat in winter or spring; nurture it until harvest time; then gather, thresh, winnow and mill the grain into flour. The culmination is a baking day, when each child makes a loaf to take home to share with their family.

The full programme has four stages:

  • Build: Construction of a solid wood planter that will last for years to come.
  • Sow: Children prepare the seed bed and plant the wheat seeds, learning how to care for it.
  • Grow and Harvest: Grow Your Own Playground makes two visits to check how the wheat is growing and harvest the crop in the late summer or early autumn.
  • Bake: A fun and informative Real Bread making day, when children get to mill their wheat and bake a loaf to take home.

Maria Lewington, headteacher at John Scurr Primary School said: “We so look forward to our Lessons in Loaf. The baking day is full of meaningful and collaborative learning. Every part of the curriculum is alive throughout the day and every child receives an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

The project partners, along with the Worshipful Company of Bakers, work to find an expert baker local to the school to join in with the baking day, allowing children to learn about the profession, and the school to build community business links.

The Real Bread Campaign would be keen to hear from anyone who can help fund their work on the project, or sponsor schools to participate.

London school teachers, governors and gardeners can express their interest in the project at:

www.lessonsinloaf.org

Notes

Lessons in Loaf: London is a collaboration between the Real Bread Campaign (which launched Lessons in Loaf nationally in 2010 and Bake Your Lawn a year later) and Cassie Liversidge, who has been helping London schools to grow wheat to bake into bread since 2010 as part of Grow Your Own Playground. Cassie’s work on the project is sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Bakers.

The Real Bread Campaign is part of the food and farming charity Sustain, which also runs London Food Link and its Capital Growth network of community food growing spaces.

Lessons in Loaf is a trademark of Sustain.

Options

Lessons In Loaf: London offers the choice of three packages, each for up to 60 pupils, tailored to a school’s specific needs:

Package 1:  The full Build, Sow, Grow and harvest, and Bake programme outlined above. Cost: £2,254.99

Package 2: The Sow, Grow and Harvest, and Bake programme outlined above. (Suitable if the wheat can be planted into an existing bed with new compost added no planter building is required) Cost £2,040.00

Taster: If a school registers too late to plant the wheat, they can try the Bake day to whet their appetite and do the whole package the following academic year. Cost £1,020.00

Consultation:  If there is any doubt that this project will be possible at a particular school, Grow Your Own Playground can offer a consultation visit. A professional gardener will visit your school, talk through the whole project and discuss the best location within the school grounds for the wheat to grow. Cost: £150.00

Sadiq Khan savours homegrown treats from London schools at City Hall

The Mayor of London opened the doors of City Hall to welcome six London schools to hold their very own Schools Marketplace on Thursday 14 July 2016. The event showcased delicious food grown in London’s schools – from salads, chards, rocket, beetroot, potatoes and herbs, to home made products such as plum jams and mango chutneys, tasty elderflower cordials, mint dips and more.

The Schools Marketplace event is part of the  Growathon initiative, which aims to get 50,000 pupils involved in food growing by the end of the summer term, run by the FGSL.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, visited every stall and said:

“I’m really pleased to host the Schools Marketplace in City Hall. I want to help Londoners to have access to better food, and lead healthier lifestyles, so it’s great to see these young people growing their own grub and developing entrepreneurial skills.”

Sadiq Khan with pupils at Marketplace 16
Sadiq Khan with pupils at Marketplace 16. Photo: Maria C. Bada/ Garden Organic

The Schools Marketplace was organised by FGSL and partner Capital Growth, who were delighted with the number of schools that took part in this and another initiatives as part of its Growathon campaign, which also included a film competition and other marketplace events across London.

Chair of the London Food Board, Rosie Boycott, said:

“These young people have shown that with some hard work and only a small amount of money you can create a wide range of food and drink using ingredients you have grown yourself. By starting young they’re laying the groundwork for a lifetime of enjoying their own produce.”

Sadiq Khan_Rosie Boycott_Summer Sale School Marketplace 2016
Photo: Maria C. Bada / Garden Organic

As well as produce stalls, an award ceremony for the Capital Growth “Showcase your Growing Competition” took place at 1.30pm. Judged by Chris Collins, best known as the former TV Blue Peter gardener, the winning schools (Selwyn Primary School – Newham, Glebe School – Bromley and Copenaghen Primary – Islington, were given prizes, including a great set of Bulldog Tools.

Former TV Blue Peter gardener, Chris Collins, said:

“It’s brilliant to see schools getting involved in food growing and enjoying themselves whilst they’re at it. Not only are young people learning where our food comes from, they’re also getting healthy, gaining valuable skills and learning to be enterprising by selling their produce at Marketplace events like this one today!”

During the ceremony, the winners of Capital Growth’s ‘Harvest-ometer Challenge’ were also annouced. The challenge inspired and helped schools to grow and measure their harvest with an online tool that calcualtes the value of your harvest. Trafalgar Infant School, Richmond won the “Most food grown per Sqm” award; Charlton Manor Primary School, Greenwich, the “Biggest range of produce” title and Ambler Primary School, Islington, was nominated as “Growing School Hero”.
London schools can access free support, tips and materials by completing the Food Growing Schools: London survey 

Every school that completes the survey will be entered into a draw to win some fantastic prizes, including a meal for two worth £50 at Wahaca, a visit from the highly skilled FGSL gardening team and freebies to support their school’s food growing activities.

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Grow Well, Feel Well event – Saturday 9 July 2016

Capital Growth newest city-wide garden open day is all about showcasing the many ways gardening can benefit our health and well-being, and to offer new opportunities and activities for volunteers to engage with community gardens.

Lots of great activities will be planned, including: meditation in the garden, growing and using medicinal herbs, garden tours and much more.

Capital Growth is looking for 20 gardens to take part by hosting activities or events for volunteers, families, newcomers or others, and we’ve got a bit of funding available to help make it happen. Some examples might include

  • cooking with garden harvests
  • yoga or meditation in the garden
  • how to grow medicinal herbs
  • shared community meals
  • special volunteer opportunities
  • anything else you can think up – we are open to any fresh, new ideas!

Keep an eye on Capital Growth webpage to find out what your local garden will be doing, and join them on the day!

 

Growing School Hero Award – entries open!

How much does your school garden grow?

Over 60 schools and 8000 pupils in London are already taking part in the Harvest-ometer challenge – join them now!

This award is for any pupil, school volunteer, parent or a teacher that has really worked hard to make your school garden special.  The winner will be awarded a certificate at the City Hall School Marketplace on July 14 and the school will win a great prize (mini orchard, chickens and a beekeeper’s visits are some of the prizes your school could win).

Nominate your Growing School Hero using our downloadable form here.

The Growing School Hero Award is part of Capital Growth Harvest-ometer Challenge.

Free 2016 Grow Wild seed kits

1 February 2016

 

Capital Growth is taking part in the UK’s biggest ever wild flower campaign by sharing free Grow Wild seed kits.

Register today using Grow Wild’s one-minute form.

Simply let us know how many people there are in your group/s, and the right number of seed kits will be send out to you in late March 2016 – just in time for sowing.

Closing date: Midnight 14 February 2016