Introducing: our lovely School Engagement Officers!

FGSL Support in your boroughMy 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 Engagement Officers

 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 – psadler@gardenorganic.org.uk

Lisa Grant – lgrant@gardenorganic.org.uk


*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: kgroves@gardenorganic.org.uk

Summer School Marketplace events across London

Students across London have been working hard tending to their gardens and allotments all term, and the crops have been bountiful.  Marketplace events held this month, have seen them to come together to sell the produce from their plots and the yummy treats they have made, and what a success they have been.

Kicking off in Croydon on 5th July was the borough’s first ever schools food market.  Children from 16 local schools sold their wares to Croydon residents who were delighted to grab a healthy bargain whilst helping the students to develop their business and communication skills.

CCollins_ Sharon Hodgson_Young Marketters_Borough Market 2016
MP for School Food Sharon Hodgson and Chris Collins at Young Marketters, Borough Market. Photo: Kate Groves/ Garden Organic

On 7th July Borough Market was the venue for the School Food Matters’ Young Marketeers to pitch their stalls.  Students sold a range of produce including peas, spinach, potatoes, beetroot and herbs, and their stalls proved to be as busy as the rest of the bustling market.

Amongst the crowds were the MP for School Food Sharon Hodgson, Mayor of Southwark Kath Whittam and the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark.  All proceeds from the event were donated to FareShare to provide meals for vulnerable families.

On 12th July it was the turn of Tower Hamlets to host a magnificent marketplace with students from a number of local schools offering almost everything you could think of!

Last but certainly not least some savvy students made their sales at the City Hall Schools Marketplace on Thursday 14th July.  Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and Rosie Boycott, The Mayor of London’s Food Advisor and Chair of the London Food Board, visited the stalls hosted by six London schools and was difficult to choose from the huge array of edible treats grown and made by the students.

There are many more school marketplace events happening across London throughout the year. And if you haven’t yet started on your school food growing journey, we can give you lots of free advice and support to help you on your way.

To get involved, sign up to receive our newsletter and be the first to find out where and when the next events are.

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