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.

What are London boroughs doing for community food growing?

Today sees the launch of the Good Food For London 2016 report, produced by our friends at Sustain through their London Food Link project.  The report takes an intriguing look at various aspects of ‘good food’, from community food growing and school food standards, to animal welfare, sustainable fish, fair pay and fair trade – and at the boroughs that are making strides to improve food culture in London. Good Food For London is supported by the GLA and partner organisations, including Food Growing Schools: London.

London boroughs are ranked in a league table according to their action on 11 ‘good food’ measures. Scores range from 95 to 15 per cent. The fantastic news is that 30 out of 33 London boroughs are doing more to improve the food available to their residents, workers and school pupils compared to 2015. For a broad look at ‘good food’ in London’s boroughs you can read the full Good Food for London 2016 report here.

Good food in London’s schools
So what does the Good Food For London 2016 report say about progress in schools? There are four key measures related to schools listed below:

Community Food Growing (Green map and list above)
The GFFL 2016 report for this measure shows that there is 1) increasing local authority commitment to food growing in communities, 2) inclusion of food growing in the Local Plan for more boroughs, and 3) borough support for school food growing through our Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) programme.  To achieve this measure at least 75% of local schools should be registered with FGSL by completing our short FGSL survey.

FGSL’s work with councils, council officers and communications representatives is really starting to make a difference. According to our own FGSL interim report launched at City Hall in October 2016, now 25 out of 33 boroughs are promoting food growing in schools compared to 15 in 2015. Almost 1,400 schools have signed up for support from FGSL so far, 87% of schools that have completed our FGSL survey have said they are involved in food growing, of which 79% cent of pupils involved have improved behaviour and attainment as a result, and 1,000 people have received training from FGSL to date. Amazing!

Good Food for London 2016 - comparing borough progress
Good Food for London 2016

Food For Life Catering Mark (listed in red on chart)
The Soil Association Food For Life Catering Mark helps organisations – from schools to nurseries to museums and staff restaurants – ensure they serve traceable, sustainable, healthier food. For this measure, the GFFL 2016 report shows that in 21 boroughs, the majority of schools are now serving Silver or Gold catering mark meals and many expanded catering mark meals to nurseries. This is remarkable especially considering in 2011 no boroughs were serving Gold catering mark meals and only eight were serving Silver in the majority of schools. But the work is far from done. This leaves out almost one third of borough where the majority of schools don’t serve meals with the accreditation. Food for Life is one of six FGSL partners.

Changing food culture in schools
From September 2015 the new OFSTED inspection framework has an increased focus on healthy eating and knowledge of how to eat healthily. The GFFL 2016 report also measures changes in food culture in schools by looking at progress in two evidenced-based programmes: Food for Life and Healthy Schools London. The report shows that 22 boroughs are making ‘some progress’ and only seven are making ‘good progress’ in engaging with these school programmes.

Food Flagships two years on – Croydon and Lambeth
In June 2014, the Mayor of London launched the Food Flagship programme in two pilot boroughs: Croydon and Lambeth, encouraging the wider community to make healthy eating normal. Lots has been achieved, and Food Growing Schools: London has supported these initiatives by doing food growing activities and training in in both boroughs, and supporting with a Schools Marketplace, four school Edible Playgrounds (with Trees for Cities) and Master Gardener community growing (with Garden Organic) in Croydon.

FGSL – continued support for London boroughs
The full Good Food For London 2016 report shows that great strides have been made to improve food culture in London, and FGSL is a big part of this. But we want to do even more with schools. Find out more about FGSL Support including.

Let’s make 2017 even better. Join FGSL in working towards our dream to see every school in London growing food!

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Best crop yet – 87% of London schools involved in food growing!

Since the launch of the Food Growing Schools: London Partnership in 2013 we have been working hard to help schools across London to grow their own food.  Over the summer we tasked research teams from the University of the West of England (Bristol) and Cardiff University to carry out an independent project evaluation so we could see how we were doing, and we’re pretty proud of the results.

The interim report was launched at City Hall on 13th October 2016 with support from Joanne McCartney AM, Deputy Mayor for London.  You can read the report in full but here are our favourite bits!

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More schools and pupils involved

87% of London schools that completed the Food Growing Schools: London survey* are now involved in food growing, and double the number of pupils are growing food in their schools. Our Growathon engaged 54,000 pupils in food growing in London up to July 2016, and 1 in 4 schools now link food growing directly to curriculum activities, embedding knowledge and skills.

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Improved skills, knowledge and behaviour

Schools have told us that food growing is having a positive impact on the education, health and well-being of their pupils, way beyond just getting their hands dirty and learning outside. 61.7% said students were more aware of nature, healthy eating and sustainability, 76.2% said pupils had enhanced knowledge and skills, and a whopping 79.2% reported improved behaviour or attainment.  That’s got to be something to celebrate!

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Increased community involvement

Schools told us that food growing has helped them to increase involvement from parents and the local community including businesses and voluntary organisations, with around 1,000 volunteers and school staff undertaking food growing training.  FGSL is helping to promote sustainability by creating strong supportive local networks where schools can help each other – sharing experience and knowledge through forums and FGSL’s pan-London school food growing conferences.

Don’t stop now!

Together, we have discovered the huge benefits of growing food in schools – improving young people’s education, health, the environment, the local economy and the impact on the local community. It’s vital now that we all continue to work together to help young people in our schools keep growing and flourishing.

Whether you are already growing food in your school, you wish to get started, or you represent an organisation who can help, here are just a few of our fantastic resources to help you get involved:

Planting seeds for the future

We think this is all pretty exciting but the undeniable benefits of food growing mean we’re keener than ever to improve on our achievements to date. We want to reach every London school and as many pupils as possible, and we want food growing to be more deeply embedded within schools.  We have the help of our wonderful partners but the Food Growing Schools: London project is due to end in March 2017.

We are looking for funding and support to continue to make an impact in schools across London, so if you can help us to reach our goals please contact FGSL Project Manager, Kate Groves: kgroves@gardenorganic.org.uk.

Food Growing Schools: London – Sowing Ideas. Growing Inspiration. Cultivating Futures.

*Figures based on evaluation surveys with lead school teachers in September 2013 (n=504) and July 2016 (n=241). The independent FGSL project evaluation was carried out by research teams from the University of the West England and Cardiff University.

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Forget Halloween, celebrate Pumpkin day!

Your school grown pumpkins are plumping up and it’s time to harvest them.  You may want to help the children carve them with funny faces for Halloween but pumpkins are so much more than just a lantern, so don’t miss the pumpkin party and try out some of these ideas.

Once you have carved out your pumpkins, you can put the insides into a mystery box and have the children dig their hands in to fish out treats or identify objects just by feel.

Pumpkin is a really tasty fruit so don’t throw the flesh away, instead create a yummy base for soups by boiling the stringy insides in water, strain, then add any veggies from your plot to the broth to make a delicious soup. Or try roasting wedges with a bit of salt and cumin to make pumpkin chips the kids will love.

And don’t forget to use all those lovely seeds.  Separate the pumpkin seeds from the flesh by rinsing under running water. Pat dry with a paper towel then put some to one side for planting. (More on this in a bit…)

If you’re feeling crafty, colour some seeds with food dye then thread using a needle to create pumpkin bracelets and necklaces. Or poke holes in a plastic bottle to make a bird feeder for your garden, fill with the pumpkin seeds and watch the wildlife flock.

If you’d like to eat them yourselves, roasted seeds can be the best bit of a pumpkin – not only are they delicious but also nutritious.  Just boil in some salted water, then lay on a tray with a sprinkle of salt and drizzle of oil and bake on a high heat for about 20 mins (depending on the size of the seeds).

And lastly, make sure you store some of the larger seeds in a cool dry spot for planting next Spring – check out this guide to growing from one of our partner organisations, the RHS.

Apply Primary Maths & English Skills Outdoors

Maths and English. Photo: RHS
Maths and English. Photo: RHS

Have you ever thought about taking your pupils outside for maths and English lessons? Being in the school garden or a beautiful local green space will inspire your pupils to learn, enjoy and achieve in these subjects.

Last chance to book your place on this fantastic RHS Campaign for School Gardening workshop – at Hampton Hill Junior School next Tuesday 8 November 2016

Trees offer many opportunities for maths activities ranging from estimation to tessellation skills. Plant propagation offers pupils a practical way to understand fractions and decimals. The natural world can provide openings for discussion and creative writing on a range of subjects. Gardens encourage children to question and explore new ideas and build their skills through listening, talking, watching and reading. Seed packets are ideal for helping children to write instructions as well as giving them a flavour of the seasons. Flowers have been the subject of much poetry and creative writing over the years.

Key Stages targeted: Key Stages 1 and 2
Level of experience: Suitable for beginners and those with some experience.

Aims and Activities

  • Identify the outdoor places and types of activities that will inspire your pupils to become successful learners
  • Learn useful gardening skills which can be used to engage pupils with maths and English programmes of study
  • Write your own activities using the outdoors as a basis for teaching maths or English skills

Booking Information

Venue: Hampton Hill Junior School, St James Avenue, Hampton Hill, TW12 1HW
Date: 8th November 2016
Cost: £95 per person.  £170 if you book two separate courses or two places on the same course.
CPD Provider:   Chris Young

To book visit the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website.

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