Learn how to infuse food growing into your everyday teaching by attending a workshop on May 22nd from 4.00 – 5.30pm at Alma Primary School, Enfield EN3 4UQ
Lisa Grant, Engagement Officer for Food Growing Schools: London, will be there to help host the session with seeds, growing tips and practical ideas about how you can use food growing activities to support the curriculum.
Please register your interest in advance with Sharon Davies, Learning Consultant PSHE / SRE & External Projects, Enfield Council – Sharon.Davies@enfield.gov.uk
Food Growing Schools London teams up with other organisations and councils in boroughs across London to get more schools engaged in growing.
October’s food growing forum held after school hours and hosted at St Andrew’s (Barnsbury) Primary School was a great success. 16 teachers from across Camden and Islington participated in the informative and inspiring session by sharing tips and resources from their food growing journey and initiatives.
Nick Ives, Engagement Officer for Food Growing Schools London (FGSL) writes:
“One of the best things about my role is working with fellow food growing enthusiasts – Marjon Willers, a Specialist Dietitian from the School Improvement Service of Islington is certainly one of those! We connected in the summer term and agreed to hold some food growing forums for teachers after school in the Autumn and Spring terms. Marjon agreed to find a host school and invite participants, my colleague Lisa Grant and I agreed to facilitate the session.
Our hosts Jacqui and King, from St Andrew’s (Barnsbury) Primary School generously welcomed 16 teachers and ourselves for the after school session which lasted an hour and a half.
To make best use of time we structured the session into four phases and encouraged constructive dialogue throughout:
a brief introduction from each participant and an expression of what they wanted to get out of the session
a demonstration from Lisa of the key features of the redesigned FGSL website
a tour from King and Jacqui of the school growing spaces
brief plenary to pull ideas together and agree some actions.
Some participants were new to growing, others more experienced. We had plenty of useful discussions, in which we shared relevant experiences and ideas, as well as sign posting to helpful resources and expertise. Some hoped to find out what to grow through the winter, others wanted to know how to make the best use of limited concrete growing spaces. As facilitators we made sure that every participant had a chance to get their questions addressed.
We encouraged everyone to keep in contact with us at Food Growing Schools: London – firstly to let us know what further support we can offer via our online survey and secondly to sign up for our regular FGSL Newsletter. We look forward to all meeting up again in the spring to share our growing stories some more.
This is what participants were kind enough to say about our forum:
‘Well organized, informal and practical. Plenty of ideas to take forward’
‘I have lots of cross curricular ideas now. More ideas for how to involve children in gardening’
‘Found out what to plant in Winter’
‘It’s great to see how another school is using its space and what they are growing’
Get in touch
Would schools in your borough benefit from a session of sharing and discussion like this one? Find out more, get involved and organise a session in your borough, simply email email@example.com or call 02476217747.
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.
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.
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.
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!
We’re delighted to be able to share some top tips from FGSL resident expert Chris Collins, to help you get the most from your food growing efforts this year.
“This is the busiest point in the garden and time to get cracking if you want a bountiful summer. Sowing seeds is currently the order of the day for me. This year I’m growing many heritage varieties that I got from Garden Organic, but use whatever you can get your hands on!”
For schools, there’s always the challenge of the timing of terms, particularly growing ‘tender’ crops such as tomatoes, runner beans or pumpkins. These are no lovers of any cold weather and need to be protected until mid-May before planting out. This leaves only a small amount of time for harvesting in the school garden before the summer break begins.
To get around this dilemma we need to sow these plants NOW, so here are some handy tips:
Invest in a few propagators (mini Greenhouses) like these.
Whilst they do require initial expenditure, they’ll last many seasons if cared for. If this is not an option, a pot with a perforated sandwich bag held in place by canes and a rubber band over it will suffice. This video might help!
Sow plants using a seed compost
Don’t skimp on compost, it’s important! But you can save money by producing your own compost by collecting leaves, raw food waste, such as fruit and veg peelings, and adding them to a compost heap in your garden.
In its incubation chamber, our propagator will soon germinate our seeds. Once this happens they should be taken out, potted into bigger pots if necessary and placed on a bright school window ledge, preferably out of long periods of direct sunshine which may bleach the leaves.
Grow, then plant out
These plants can then be grown until the safety of mid-May, at which point they can be planted out as nice sturdy specimens, giving them a great head start on the season.
“This will all be worth the extra effort. Tomatoes, beans and pumpkins are the fastest growing and fastest yielding of the edible crops, making them a real joy for the children to see them grow.”
My name is Paul. I’m a School and Community Engagement Officer for the Food Growing Schools: London partnership. There are three of us – Paul, Lisa and Julie* – working across the 33 boroughs of London.
What do Engagement Officers do?
Being a FGSL Engagement Officer can be quite a diverse role. We do a lot of work ‘sign-posting’ or pointing schools in the right direction when they are starting out on their food growing journey. It’s always a joy to hear the enthusiasm from a member of school staff or a parent wanting our help to develop a new school garden. Our advice ranges from sharing information and resources about how to set up your garden and the best plants to grow, to promoting school growing activities (e.g. Spring into Growing 2017), and wider support available to schools (e.g. FGSL partners and local organisations). We also love to visit schools and meet staff, volunteers and pupils face to face. We encourage schools to get started on their food growing journey by completing our FGSL survey to tell us what support they need.
Who works in your London borough?
I feel quite lucky to have 11 boroughs that are all very enthusiastic and engaged in promoting food growing in their schools. They run from the northern outer boroughs of Harrow, Barnet and Enfield through Camden and Islington, and down into the southern ‘Flagship’ boroughs of Lambeth and Croydon where I have tended to spend quite a lot of my time supporting their work. Below is a list of where our FGSL Engagement Officers work. Email us* to find out how we can support you:
FGSL are working with Borough Councils to help schools grow
According to the Good Food for London 2016 report 30 out of 33 London boroughs are doing more to improve the food available to their residents, workers and school pupils compared to 2015. We are also proud to be working directly with borough councils to help schools grow food through our Food Growing Schools: London programme.
Swapping seeds, plants and knowledge at Borough Forums
One of my favourite activities is running a ‘Forum’ or networking event within a borough. These are always held at a local school who are growing food and happy to show off what they are doing to others. The Forums are an opportunity for anyone who is running or wanting to set up a school food growing project to gain some informal training, share what they are doing with others and gain some inspiration from the host school. We try to run a seasonal food growing activity and encourage those who turn up to bring spare seeds, plants and even an educational resource which they can share or swap with others. It a fun and informative meeting giving the chance for everyone to network and go away with a little more confidence and enthusiasm to help them on their food growing adventures.
Would you like support to get growing, or to host a Borough Forum in your school?
If you would like to host a Borough Forum in your school, or would like support for your school to get growing please get in touch. See the blue poster above for which Engagement Officer works in your borough:
Paul Sadler – firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Grant – email@example.com
*Please note: Julie Henley-Wilkinson is finishing with FGSL in December 2016. Please contact FGSL Project Manager, Kate Groves, if your school is based in one of her boroughs and you would like support: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re not currently growing food, or just getting started on your food growing journey, our new school assembly programme could be just for you.
Over the summer, the Food Growing Schools: London team have been beavering away to get a fun, engaging and informative assembly ready to be delivered in schools this autumn term. The idea is that the assembly is taken into schools that are yet to enjoy all the benefits of food growing, so that we can inspire teachers and pupils and make it even easier to get started.
The short assembly is linked to the curriculum, suitable for all ages and can be tailored for the needs of your school. It will get your pupils thinking about where our food comes from, why food growing is important and what can be grown within the school gates. Team the assembly with our free tips and resources and we’ll have you growing your own in no time at all!
Interested? Book your free school assembly – and receive: