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.
*surveyed by the British Nutrition Foundation in 2013. **FGSL Figures based on evaluation surveys with lead school teachers in September 2013 (n=504) and July 2016 (n=241).