The RHS Campaign for School Gardening are on the lookout for the most inspirational young gardeners, educators and gardening teams in the UK.
You can read about last year’s finalists and winners here.
Prizes for finalists and winners in 2018 include a stunning Gabriel Ash greenhouse worth £3,425, Gabriel Ash Coldframes, £500 in vouchers, garden tools and unique opportunities to work with RHS and TV gardeners.
One of our Food Growing Schools: London partners, Soil Association Food for Life is working with the London Royal Borough of Greenwich to transform food culture in the borough.
Alexander McLeod Primary School in Abbey Wood hosted a few keen people on 5 Dec 2017 who had food growing and healthy cooking on their minds as part of the Food for Life Train the Trainer partnership in Greenwich.
The project is about community-based people training others in areas of food education linked to promoting a healthy lifestyle through food, both in growing healthy food and then also using that healthy food to prepare meals.
Train a trainer
The food growing element of the training was led by Garden Organic’s Associate Liz Davies. She took participants through the elements of the Food for Life awards criteria, whole school approach to food education linked to the primary curriculum, organic growing in schools and also composting in schools.
Integrating organic growing with the primary curriculum focusing on Food for Life activities including school community engagement brought everything to life by using the school’s glorious growing space as a foundation for learning.
The afternoon finished with participants’ trialing practical activities highlighting health and safety considerations in schools along with curriculum planning and seed saving ideas.
Events like these help to gather bright minds and great ideas, to help build stronger, healthier communities.
If you’d like to find out more about the Soil Association Food For Life programme and related initiatives, please visit their website.
Trees for Cities and Bulb, the UK renewable energy supplier, are looking for London schools interested in transforming their playgrounds into food growing spaces and building their capacity to teach through gardening.
The Edible Playgrounds project includes designing and building a bespoke, vibrant and functional teaching garden alongside teacher training, curriculum mapping and other support to build teacher’s confidence and skills to teach outside.
Garden produce could be anything from fresh produce, like tomatoes, herb bunches or potatoes, to goods like jam, chutney, cordial, potted plants, seeds, baked goods, hanging baskets or fresh snacks. Everything you bring to sell should include produce from your school garden.
It’s completely free
There will be prizes for Best Dressed Stall, Most Innovative Product and People’s Choice.
A maximum of 5 attendees per school, including children and adults (pupils must be able to attend).
“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:
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
Trees for Cities have teamed up with the Woodland Trust to offer hundreds of London primary schoolsfree tree packs. We think trees and hedgerows can go hand-in-hand with your food-growing school gardens, so find out more about Trees for Schools here while supplies last!
The benefits of food growing reach far beyond improving gardening skills and teaching children where food comes from and the FGSL partnershiphas gathered lots of evidence to show this.
Trees for Cities(TFC) have worked with 50 schools to create Edible Playgrounds. These spaces are a fun way to teach children new skills, enrich food education and get food growing into the curriculum.
TFC identify some of the key challenges that food growing helps to tackle:
Children have a disconnect with nature and understanding where food comes from:
33% of pupils in UK primary schools believe cheese comes from plants.
25% believed that fish fingers come from chicken or pigs.*
Mental and physical health problems are widespread:
Latest figures from Public Health England show that a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds are overweight or obese.
1 in 10 children have a diagnosable mental health disorder.
So how are pupils benefitting from food growing?
Improved skills, knowledge and behaviour
Over 90% of head teachers said their Edible Playground had increased students’ gardening skills, knowledge of the environment and food origins and uptake of fruit and vegetables.
Lots of schools have been using the playground to run therapy sessions for SEN children or those with anger management issues.
70% of schools surveyed said the playgrounds have supported work with SEN students or those with challenging behavioural issues.
“It has a very calming effect on some pupils with significantly challenging behavioural difficulties” Rockmount Primary School.
RHS research has also found that gardening can help children to develop ‘a more resilient, confident and responsible approach to life’.
Food growing used as a teaching tool
All of the Head Teachers surveyed use their edible playground for maths and science lessons, as well as for English and art (92%), design and technology (76%), geography (30%), languages (23%), RE and ICT (15%) and history (7%).
1 in 4 schools now link food growing to the curriculum**
These positive findings echo the results of the independent FGSL evaluation 2016, that also shows how food growing in schools increases links between schools and local businesses, organisations and volunteers and brings significant value to schools that are part of the programme.
Once you’ve got your food growing underway, why not celebrate your efforts by finding out the value of all that you’ve grown?
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.
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.
We’re delighted to let you know that Food for Life has formally teamed up with Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen Garden Project to give all Food for Life schools and nurseries EXCLUSIVE ACCESS to their beautiful food education and growing resources.
The resources include delicious Jamie Oliver recipes for children, lesson plans, helpful teaching notes, growing units, curriculum-linked activities and nutrition information, all tailored to primary school-level cooking lessons and activities for garden-based learning.
A single subscription to both food education programmes means that you will have even more flexibility and support around practical cooking, growing and food-based learning. Schools who have already been working with Food for Life and the Kitchen Garden Project have told us how well the resources complement each other. We hope you think so too!