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!”

Fantastic news for Food Growing Schools: London!

Fred Wilcox, RHS Young Gardener of the Year, at the Food Growing Schools: London Schools Marketplace with City Hall staff. Trafalgar Infants School, Richmond. Jane Baker/Garden Organic
Fred Wilcox, RHS Young Gardener of the Year 2016, at a Food Growing Schools: London Schools Marketplace. Trafalgar Infants School, Richmond. Jane Baker/Garden Organic

New funding secured to continue

We are delighted to announce plans to build on the fantastic achievements of Food Growing Schools: London by continuing to promote food growing in London schools.

For the past three years, Garden Organic has been leading the Food Growing Schools: London partnership (funded by the Big Lottery Fund), working with the Mayor of London, Capital Growth, the Soil Association’s Food For Life project, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), School Food Matters and Trees for Cities.

Due to end in March this year, Food Growing Schools: London has achieved remarkable results helping to promote and support food growing, healthy eating and sustainability in schools across London. Now, thanks to financial support from a major donor, Garden Organic is thrilled to be able to build on the successes and learning of this project for a further 12 months.

Chris Collins, Head of Organic Horticulture at Garden Organic and former Blue Peter Gardener, is thrilled that this project will continue: “It’s such an uplifting piece of news – Garden Organic has made great strides in the past three years, highlighting and supporting the fundamental importance of organic food growing in schools.” He commented. “Understanding the process from seed to plate is a life skill, and the hard work of those involved in the Food Growing Schools: London project has made great leaps in educating the next generation. However the work is far from done; we have set off on the road and it is superb news that continued funding enables us to carry on this positive work.”

Garden Organic’s Head of Education, Colette Bond has been involved in the project since its inception. “Garden Organic has, for decades, been involved in encouraging children to grow food. We know that something as simple as growing fruit and veg organically can have a life-changing impact on children.” She commented. “A large number of London pupils have never been exposed to food growing. We’re delighted with the impact the Food Growing Schools: London project has had so far, and to now have the opportunity to continue this work.”

This support will allow Garden Organic to evolve the project over a 12 month period; to enhance the most successful elements so that even more schools embrace food growing and enjoy the life-changing benefits it has been proven to bring.

The Food Growing Schools: London website has information and downloadable resources for schools interested in accessing the support offered. Alternatively, to discuss the project further, or to talk through specific requirements, please contact education@gardenorganic.org.uk.

About the project

Food Growing Schools: London, launched in 2013, was established to increase the number of London schools growing food. Through a combination of hands on support, teacher training, termly growing activities and regular events, the project has delivered impressive achievements. An independent review of Food Growing Schools: London reported that 87% of London schools surveyed are now involved in growing, with 1 in 4 linking food growing directly to the curriculum. This take up of food growing activities has led to a significant increase in pupils being more aware of healthy eating and sustainability – enabling them to start making healthy life choices from an early age.

The independent external evaluation of the project, completed in 2016 by the University of the West of England, is available to download here.

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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Look what we achieved!

Over the summer 2016, while you were all enjoying the summer holidays, we took a moment to reflect on the amazing time we have had as a partnership, helping London schools to grow food.

So much has happened to be proud of.

We know we have achieved a lot, but we were amazed to see how much! Research teams from the University of the West England (Bristol) and Cardiff University, carried out an independent FGSL project evaluation. Here’s a snapshot of what they found. Since our launch in 2013 and October 2016:

FGSL Our Achievements Infographic

James Campbell, Chief Executive, Garden Organic said:

“I am deeply proud of what we have achieved so far — 87% of London schools are now growing food and considerably more pupils, parents, community members and businesses are involved.”

Our Achievements – read the report
You can read more about our achievements in our special FGSL Interim Report, launched at City Hall in October 2016.

Together we made it happen
Thank you to everyone who has helped us achieve so much since 2013 – from teachers, volunteers and local businesses, to FGSL staff and funders – to name but a few. Without you none of this would have been possible. A huge thanks also goes to our fantastic FGSL Partners, who are busy every day sharing their expertise with schools:

Garden Organic (lead partner)
Capital Growth
Soil Association Food for Life
Royal Horticultural Society
School Food Matters
Trees for Cities

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:

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

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