From Seed to Market – Chris Collins and the Young Marketeers Harvest Sale

“There is nothing like the sound of children taking over a market place!” – Chris Collins.

The Young Marketeers Harvest & Apple Sale is coming up on 5 October at Borough Market. Chris Collins who works with School Food Matters to deliver the project and is best known as a former TV Blue Peter gardener, writes to tell us what this school food growing project is all about:

Young Marketeers is an exciting project that has been running for 6 years with support from various organisations including School Food Matters, United St Saviour’s Charity, FareShare and Garden Organic.

The project focus is on advising schools on food growing and providing workshops to teach primary school children to grow veg from seed with an emphasis on seed to plate, encouraging healthy eating by getting children to grow food. It has, in my opinion, been a resounding success.

Young Marketeers takes things a step beyond growing food and with the help of the famous Borough Market, we introduced an entrepreneurial element, where the food the children grow is taken to market and sold to customers.

There is nothing like the sound of children taking over a market place! They are incredible sales people and they do have the advantage of fresh produce to sell – fresh produce they have personally grown.

There are a real mix of children involved with the project because the schools included are primary, secondary and special needs.

The journey starts with workshops in early spring. That’s where I start getting involved. I undertake these workshops at Borough Market itself and can have 25 schools in two sittings – it’s a giant seed sowing party.

We do two lots of crops; one for a summer sale and one for the autumn sale. I teach them seed sowing in trays, pricking out, sowing in drills and how to look after your plants. This advice can be accompanied by school visits I do from time to time but it’s up to the school and the pupils to grow and present produce for sale at the market when the time comes. The children are also given a tour around the market to get tips on sales techniques and how to set up a stall.

What an effort is made when market day comes – the stalls themselves are always presented in fantastic fashion, with children’s artwork and displays really making the produce stand out. The star of the show though has to be the produce the kids have grown. It’s incredibly rewarding for me to see how closely they have listened and, as always their amazing enthusiasm. You can never tire of gardening with children and this project highlights just how much they get it of it.

I will be at the Autumn Sale on 5 October, representing Garden Organic, School Food Matters and Food Growing Schools: London. We always have some esteemed company as the mayor of Southwark attends and usually the local MP, which in itself attracts the media, creating yet another experience for our young growers.

My work doesn’t end there though as I have the impossible task of picking the winning stall…wish me luck, I’m going to need it!”

Christopher M Collins,
Head of Organic Horticulture
Garden Organic

Are you looking to get your school involved in food growing and enterprise activities? Find free resources on our website to get you started, like our Grow Your Own Business activity pack!

Back to (food growing) school!

Summer holidays are coming to an end but we’re excited to go “back to school” for another year of building on the tremendous success of our Food Growing Schools: London project.

Garden Organic, working with the Food Growing Schools: London project partners, are geared up to deliver support, activities, training and resources to hundreds of participants across the capital as pupils return to the classroom and their school food growing projects.

From growing food in school gardens, to cooking it in school kitchens and selling it at local market events, the Food Growing Schools: London project is giving pupils in our country’s most populous urban centre a chance to live healthier, happier and more environmentally sustainable lifestyles.

There is still a way to go to meet the ambitious objective of getting every school in London growing food but there is certainly lots to celebrate from the first three years of the original project.

Evaluation* of the project’s growing impact in the city has highlighted Food Growing Schools: London’s contribution:

  • 87% of schools are now engaged in food growing*
  • 79% of schools report students are more aware of nature, healthy eating and sustainability
  • 54% of schools report improved behaviour or attainment
  • 25% of schools now link food growing to the curriculum
  • 1,000 school staff and volunteers have received food growing training

Some key achievements include:

  • Six Schools Marketplaces at City Hall – and more in local boroughs
  • Two School Food Growing Conferences
  • Heritage Seed Library Seed Guardian Project – with Garden Organic
  • Schools Oca Growing Project – as part of ‘Grow Around the World’ activities
  • Growathon – engaging over 76,000 pupils in food growing
  • Delivered 40 school assemblies across London to help kick start food growing in schools
  • Partnership with the Food Flagship Boroughs of Croydon and Lambeth
  • Partnership with Borough Councils through the Good Food for London report

You can help

If you want to help give pupils in London the chance to grow food at school, here are a few simple actions you can take to get involved.

Wherever you may live in this great country, we appreciate the support in helping to build our online community and to amplify our voice. Many of our resources, tips and tricks are useful and designed to be used in any part of the country.

If you know someone based in London, why not mention the project to them? For completing our survey they will receive a term-time planner, seeds and also have the chance to win prizes like vouchers or other items.*

  • Be a volunteer and leader in your community

Many schools in London are looking for volunteers, items or funding to kick start or develop food growing projects. Offer your time, knowledge, skills or spare gardening tools to a school near you – find out how.

  • Support charities who stand up for what you believe in

The Food Growing Schools: London project is a partnership of charities. While the FGSL project doesn’t accept charitable donations for funding, the partners who deliver worthwhile projects all across the UK could use your support.

Garden Organic is calling for donations to the Fighting Fund to react quickly and directly when the rights of organic growers are threatened and this is especially important during these turbulent political times.

Want to know more about our partners?

Find out here about the incredible work the other Food Growing Schools: London partner charities are doing and how you can support their work.

 

*All statistics in this article are based on evaluation surveys with lead school teachers in Sept 2013 (n=504) and Jan 2017 (n=313). Evaluation was conducted by Prof Mat Jones, Emma Weikamp (both UWE Bristol) and Hannah Pitt (Cardiff University) Public Health and Wellbeing Research Group, UWE, Frenchay Campus, Bristol, BS16 1QY

*Of the schools that participated in the FGSL survey, the percentage of schools engaged in food growing has risen from 72% to 87% since 2013.

*Free term time planner, seeds, vouchers and prizes are available while stocks last and some items may not be available to everyone.

Food Growing Schools: London is a partnership initiative led by Garden Organic. Garden Organic, the working name of the Henry Doubleday Research Association, is a registered charity in England and Wales (no. 298104) and Scotland (SC046767).

Continue reading “Back to (food growing) school!”