Grow a School Garden – Autumn planting

Grow a School Garden – Oct/Nov 2018

Termly blog by Chris Collins on How to Create and Grow a School Garden

During the end of the summer months, though days are shorter, there is still plenty to keep us busy in our gardens.

Summer crops can be removed and dug into the compost bin and soil dug over and made ready for a fresh crop of plants for both winter and next spring.

What to plant now

Broad beans are a great crop to get in now, as the soil is still reasonably warm.

Quicker crops like Spinach, winter mix salad leaves and Chard can all be sown in open ground and can be grazed through the late winter months.

It may be worth investing a small amount of money in a roll of fleece from the local garden centre, this can be pinned down over your newly sown seeds and will protect them on cold nights and give them a strong start.

Any ground or raised beds you don’t plan to use over winter should be sown with a green manure. A mustard crop, sown thickly on empty ground can prevent weeds colonising your ground   and can be dug into the soil, in spring to keep your soil healthy.

The onset of the dark months is no barrier to growing fresh food – don’t miss out on those beautiful autumn days.

Planting bulbs
Colourful bulbs in spring (click image to enlarge).

The autumn is also the time of year to plant bulbs. These are the Jack-in-a-box of the plant world, staying low below the ground they are spring loaded to appear in the spring when the soil warms up.

For food plant some Garlic now but for colour there is an array of beautiful plants for your school to enjoy.

Set aside a piece of ground in a border, raised bed or even large pot. Plant a mix of bulbs to flower next year , Snowdrop (Jan, Feb) Crocus (Feb, March) Daffodil (March / April), Tulip (April / May) Allium (May).

You can get a run of three to four months of colour from bulbs and mixing the types really gives an amazing display.

There is further good news as bulb are pretty cheap to buy.

When it comes to planting and looking after bulbs there are two main rules, plant them the depth of a trowel’s head (up to the handle) and make sure you leave the foliage at least 6 weeks after they have stopped flowering. One final tip is, bulbs like Daffodil and Crocus can be naturalised, meaning they can be planted out permanently in a lawn or around the base of trees, where they will flower year after year.

  • See more advice from Garden Organic about sourcing and planting organic bulbs here.
How to grow a Willow wall
Taking willow cuttings (click image to enlarge).

A great winter project is to produce your own Willow wall. It’s worth finding out if any schools in your area are already growing Willow. If so, see if you can get some cuttings. These cuttings will need to be taken by a teacher.

They are last years growth on the plant, strong shoots (see photo) that have grown and ripened over the summer. Cut them at about 20 cm length with a straight cut below a node, this is a swelling on the wood were leaves will grow.  At the other end of the cutting cut a sloped cut above a node, this way you’ll remember which way up your cutting goes.

Now it’s time to get the children involved. Bundle up the cuttings in groups of 20, bind them together with twine. Dig a trench 15cm deep on a north facing wall and fill it with 5 cm of sand. Bury the bundles in the trench and put back the soil. You should now have 5cm of Willow cuttings sticking out the ground, you can now forget all about these cuttings until next spring when you can dig them up, they will have rooted and you can plant your own Willow wall. I recommend 5 to 10 bundles to get you going. The other advantage of taking these cuttings is there is plenty of curriculum involved – biology and maths for a starter.

Making leaf mould compost
Making leaf mould in autumn (click to enlarge image).

A further project for the autumn is to make some leaf mould. Don’t waste the great bonanza that is falling leaves.

A quick bit of construction involving four wooden stakes and some chicken wire makes a square cage. Get the children to collect any leaves in the school grounds and fill this ‘cage’ with leaves.

In a couple of seasons, you will have the perfect seed sowing compost. This uses a natural gift from Mother Nature, saves money and is great exercise!

  • Find out about making leaf mould and how to use it on the Garden Organic website here.
Helping wildlife

Finally, remember our small friends the birds at this time of year, put out food and water to help them out, they are an important part of the garden.

Happy gardening everyone.

Chris Collins

Head of Organic Horticulture. Garden Organic

 

Grow a School Garden – Sunshine and summer holidays

Grow a School Garden – June/July 2018

Monthly blog by Chris Collins on How to Create and Grow a School Garden 

Summer sun and watering advice

Well, the word at the moment is definitely sunshine and it really is beautiful weather. What a great time to be outside and enjoying all that nature offers!

It is though quite a tough time for plants and the dryness causes plants to feel stressed. This is not a problem as long as you’re doing your job as a gardener and seeing to their needs.

Watering of course is the job of such importance at the moment and it’s vital we get this job right.

First thing is – no hosepipes! Not because they are a banned, it’s just it’s not a good way to water in this heat. Water your plants by catering can and water to the base of your plants. Scorching can occur on the leaves if they get wet. Also spraying with a hose tends to just water the air as this heat soon soaks it up. You can use your hose, if you have one to fill your watering cans.

The other vital aspect of watering in this weather is the timing. Make sure the temperature is as cool as possible when watering your plants; early in the morning is the best time for a school.

Composting and weeding

Composting around your plants will also help keep those fine roots near the surface, especially the larger ones.

Remember also, to keep pulling those weeds, they will compete for water in this hot weather and many of then set their seeds much quicker in the hot weather.

Looking ahead – using curriculum activities

As the term comes to an end it’s also maybe a good time to think about what next for your garden area.  You have your raised beds up and running so how about thinking about the design of the area.

A great Maths class is to measure your area and produce a scale drawing.

A great Art class is to sit down and design the garden, you could give a theme or think about connecting it to the school, its history or any stand out projects the school may have done.

This is great fun and a fantastic way to learn.

Harvesting your hard work

Hopefully you will now also be picking some of your crops. All your hard work will now mean you get to enjoy and maybe eat your produce. Remember when picking crops like Runner beans, to twist them first, so they snap cleanly from the plant. This avoids infection and fungus getting into the plant if it is damaged.

Similarly, when digging plants out, like Lettuce, remove the plant as cleanly as possible, don’t leave old leaves and refuse on the beds to encourage slugs and other problems.

How can parents, guardians and volunteers help?

However, the biggest challenge over the summer, is that schools break up.

How do we water the plants that have not been cropped? Hand watering is always best. Can you raise volunteers to help you with this?

Produce a newsletter with all your great work. Send it out to parents and grandparents to see if they would like to help and get involved.

Producing this newsletter would also make a great end of term project for the children and again could be tied in with the curriculum.

Another watering trick

There are some tricks you can use to help you with thirsty plants over the summer. We have already mentioned mulching and composting.

You can also use old plastic water bottles.

Remove the lid and fill the bottle with water. Then cover the mouth of the bottle with seven or eight layers of cling film, which then should be pierced with a sowing needle. Place upside down at the base of your plants and the water will slowly drain over a number of days, thus reducing your watering.

Well, I hope that helps and happy gardening and I wish you a great summer hols!

Chris Collins

Head of Organic Horticulture. Garden Organic

Grow a School Garden – Spring, Soil and Design

Grow a School Garden – Mar/April 2018

Monthly blog by Chris Collins on How to Create and Grow a School Garden

Late frosts

Despite the fact that it feels like a late spring, especially in a school gardening calendar when time is everything, let me reassure you that this is most definitely an illusion. It is quite normal to have frosts and cold snaps as late as April.

Winter has a late kick but the important thing to know is plants will always catch up. The only down side is spring will be quicker this year. Nature will get a wriggle on and you need to be on your toes to make sure you enjoy it in all its glory.

Sturdier seedlings

Your more tender crops that have been grown inside will be growing away, either on a classroom window shelf or a glasshouse. Remember it’s still too early to plant them out. Grow them on, making sure you turn them away from the light every day. This stops them stretching and becoming too tall and skinny (elongating is the fancy expression).

I also like to stroke or lightly tickle any young seedlings that are growing in a protected environment. I know that sounds strange, but this mimics the outdoor elements and encourages your young plant to become more stocky and resilient and will make for a better plant in the long run. It’s also a great way for the pupils growing the plants to bond with their new plants .

If you have already sown some crops outside, please don’t worry; plants will bide their time and soon appear when conditions are more favourable. Don’t be afraid to re-sow another line if you feel that’s better. Now that the weather is changing, everything will shift quickly.

Sowing tips

Remember the rule of sowing in a straight line. Weeds will be on the march, they have waited for their moment and you need to be able to tell what is a Carrot, Lettuce, Rocket seedling, etc. and what is a weed. Sowing your crops in a straight line, in your raised or open bed will let you tell your plants and weeds apart.

Remember also to always label your rows/plants. Good record keeping is a great curriculum activity and makes your crop growing easier.

Planting in wet soil

Just a quick word if you’re growing in open beds, in borders for instance (rather than raised beds). There is a good chance that the soil is very wet, don’t worry, you can still sow seeds, just get an old scaffold or wooden plank and stand on that instead of the soil. This will stop the soil becoming to compact and then not draining properly.

Explore your soil

So, as I’ve mentioned, standing on soil when its wet will make your gardening more difficult but what type of soil do you have?

Get pupils to get their hands in the soil. Does it stick together, even form a ball? Then it’s a clay soil. Find out what that means – in science clay behaves different to a sand soil.

A sandy soil will be fine and run through your fingers and will drain quicker. It’s also much better for Carrots. Understanding your soil will make you a better gardener. It will also make you wiser about the soil you have in any raised beds your school may have. Remember all soils will improve by adding good compost.

Having fun in the garden with designs

It’s still time to think of fun ways to garden. What are your classroom or gardening club’s ideas? How can we make our growing and outdoor spaces more fun?

The outdoors should always be a place of discovery, of mystery and should be a place for hands on teaching.

My project for this blog is to make, using recycled materials, something completely unusual for your school grounds. Have an art competition, have a collection point for materials and grow some plants to bring it to life. The imagination is the most important tool.

Are your pupils designers? A project like this will soon see. To get you started have a look at my Ogre’s face we designed and built. I look forward to seeing your gardening pupils’ creations.

Happy Gardening everybody. Spring is here!

Chris Collins
Head of Organic Horticulture – Garden Organic

ccollins@gardenorganic.org.uk

Grow a School Garden – Seeds and Spring Planting

Grow a School Garden – Feb/Mar 2018

Monthly blog by Chris Collins on How to Create and Grow a School Garden

Spring is nearly here

It is this time of year that suddenly a day will come when finally after a long winter, everybody will feel the warmth of the sun on their face again. It’s such a welcome feeling and also very exciting time for our outdoor spaces.

This is the time to get busy in the garden, particularly for producing plants. Seed sowing is the one thing that can really get children hooked on growing plants . Watching a seed come to life and grow into a plant is a wonder that never gets tiring.

Tips for seed germination

So here are some ideas for getting your seed going.

Firstly if there is a budget, I really recommend investing in a couple of propagators . These are basically mini greenhouses that can be kept in the classroom and used to start all those tender crops that will need protection from the spring cold.

Tomatoes, Broad Beans, Courgettes, Squash and Pumpkins will all germinate well in a propagator, which can then be grown on indoors until its time to plant out.

Starting these plants like this means that you will be planting out strong healthy plants. It will extend your growing season, hopefully meaning you will get plenty of crops before the summer term ends.

History and science lessons with seeds

Growing seeds in the classroom like this also lends itself to the opportunity to studying how seeds work. They are truly incredible things, a couple of examples of this could be the Giant Redwood, the biggest living plant on Earth that has a seed that is a billionth the size of a fully grown tree . Or why are Poppies associated with Remembrance day. Its because Poppy seeds only germinate when they are exposed to light . The artillery fire unearthed Poppy seeds, some of which may have been underground for over a hundred years and then they proceeded to grow and flower. This example can also be used to teach some of the history of the first world war.

Raking and treading soil

Seeds, however also give us the chance to get outside and get our Carrots and Broad Beans growing. The soil will be all nicely dug from the winter gardening, now we can rake and tread it.

This entails using the rake to create a soil as level as possible . Use it to take out any lumps or dips. Treading means to use the back of your heels to firm down the whole area. It means a funny walk across the soil but it takes out all the air pockets and allows smooth capillary action enabling water movement in the soil.

Sowing carrots

Once you’ve done this, Carrots can be sown in drills. Put down a line of string across your plot, make a small trench along the line (use a piece of bamboo) and sow your seeds (check the packet for spacing tips), cover over, water and label.

Watering tips

A good tip is to use a watering can with a rose head, turn the rose so its facing upward, this will create a fine water spray when poured and thus prevents you washing out and displacing those carefully sown seeds. Using a line (drill) to sow seeds like this means when they grow into seedlings you will know what they are and distinguish them from any weeds growing at the same time in the surrounding soil.

Veg writing project idea

A couple of projects for early spring could be Veg writing. How about sowing some Salad leaves with your name or the school name? Mark out the name with sand and make a small trench in the sand and sow in Rocket or Green salad leaves. Then using drills surrounding the sown Rocket, sow red leaved Salad. When it all starts to grow you will see your school name. Clip with scissors from time to time and use the clipped salad leaves in sandwiches.

Window ledge herb garden

On the topic of edible plants, a small herb garden can be made and sit outside the classroom on a window ledge.

You can get yourself a pot or is there something we can recycle?

You can use many things for a pot just remember that it will need drainage, so make sure you can put holes in the bottom of it. Herbs don’t like wet feet, so mix peat-free compost with some gravel or sand. Maybe put some gravel in the bottom of the pot too.

If you are putting it on a window sill make sure it fits before adding the compost.

Then start to collect and plant your herbs. Small herbs like Parsley and Coriander can be grown from seed. Larger herbs , like Lavender and Rosemary can be bought, quite cheaply from the garden centre and why not see if anyone has Oregano or Lemon Balm as these can easily be divided up – maybe someone’s Grandma has some in her garden somewhere!

Happy Gardening!

Chris Collins
Head of Organic Horticulture – Garden Organic

ccollins@gardenorganic.org.uk

 

Reap what you sow: Tips from Chris Collins

Chris Top tips resizedWe’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:

  1. 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!

  1. 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.

How to make your own compost

  1. Re-pot plants

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.

  1. 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.”

Also check out this advice on sowing indoors from The RHS and the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Happy Growing!

 

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.

Inspiring story: Chris Collins – a successful gardening career

Chris Collins, New Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic, lead Food Growing Schools: London partner.
Chris Collins, new Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic, lead Food Growing Schools: London partner.

Congratulations to former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins, and keen supporter of Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL), who has become the new Head of Organic Horticulture for Garden Organic, FGSL’s lead partner.  Garden Organic asked Chris to tell us how he became a successful gardener.

A CV most gardeners can only dream of
Chris has a CV most gardeners can only dream of, taking in two Royal Botanic Gardens and the green space at ‘The Queen’s church’ Westminster Abbey. With a long TV history, Chris has popped up on everything from Blue Peter – where he ran the iconic London garden for nine years and then created a new one at the BBC’s MediaCityUK studio in Salford – to Gardeners’ World, This Morning, Children in Need, Garden Invaders and Turf Wars.

A familiar face to many schools gardeners
Chris is a familiar face to many schools, supporting a wide range of school food growing projects in London and across the UK – and taking selfies wherever he goes! Chris has supported many FGSL projects including our FGSL Schools Marketplace at City Hall, Growathon and numerous schools competitions, the School Food Matters Young Marketeers project at Borough Market and Edible Playground projects as a patron with Trees for Cities – to name but a few. FGSL look forward to working with Chris even more closely to achieve our dream to get every school in London growing food.

Inspiration for young gardeners
Chris trained at the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh before working on diverse projects all over the globe, including Africa’s oldest botanical gardens in Cameroon and a stint in Japan teaching British gardening techniques. Chris returned to the UK in 1998 and his career blossomed further at Kew and Westminster Abbey. He is also an RHS Chelsea Flower Show medal-winner!

Garden Organic asked Chris some questions about his career and this is what he said:

How did your career begin? “I come from quite a rough background and when I left school I got an apprenticeship on the Brighton Parks. I planted an elm tree in my first week and I knew straightaway that this was what I wanted to do with my career. That tree’s now 45 feet tall. Gardening has given me a fantastic life and I owe it so much. I don’t know whether it’s fair to say gardening saved my life, as you never know what path you might have taken, but it certainly lit things up for me, and still does.”

What was it like running the nation’s most watched garden? “There were so many hilarious moments looking after the Blue Peter garden. I’ve worked with Scooby Doo and Buddhist monks. I’ve been eaten by a giant plant. For a feature on composting, we made little Daleks with Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston. There was always something fun going on and I had the chance to direct what we were doing. The greatest thing was that it was really successful at reaching children. My endgame? Is always to spread the message about horticulture.”

What’s the best way to inspire the next generation to grow their own? “I’m a big fan of gardening being taught in schools. The key thing is to have someone come in once a week to drive the project and share their enthusiasm. Get some raised beds, sow some fruit and veg, nurture them week by week, let them see the growing cycle. This is how you teach kids properly about growing.”

Top tips for anyone getting started? “My advice is to start small, at home, even if you only have a balcony or a few pots on a patio. Make it a family project to see what you can grow, whether it’s crops or flowers or a combination. Going out and about to I’m a big fan of gardening being taught in schools. The key thing is to have someone come in once a week to drive the project and share their enthusiasm. Get some raised beds, sow some fruit and veg, nurture them visit places for inspiration makes it more fun.”

Congratulations to Chris on his new role as Head Gardener with Garden Organic. FGSL look forward to working with him even more closely to achieve our dream to get every school in London growing food!

Read more about Chris Collins on the Garden Organic website.

Find out more about careers in horticulture – and support young people to grow their futures.

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London schools celebrate food growing success at City Hall

Junior Gardeners’ Question Time at the Food Growing Schools: London Celebration Event at City Hall. The young panellists were from Trafalgar Infant School (Richmond), Rokesly Junior School (Haringey) and Reay Primary School (Lambeth).
Junior Gardeners’ Question Time panelists from Trafalgar Infant School (Richmond), Rokesly Junior School (Haringey) and Reay Primary School (Lambeth). Photo: Jane Baker/Garden Organic.

From strawberry jam to tomato ketchup, and the great British apple to winter salad bags – young entrepreneurs from 10 London schools shared their food growing skills with the public at City Hall on Thursday 13 October 2016. They represent the increasing number of London students experiencing the huge benefits of food growing since the launch of Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) in 2013.

On Thursday 13 October 2016 during a unique FGSL Celebration Event, students showcased their school-grown produce at the sixth FGSL Schools Marketplace, run in partnership with Capital Growth, and took to the stage in the prestigious London’s Living Room.

The event was opened by Joanne McCartney AM, Deputy Mayor for London, and Deputy Mayor for Education and Childcare, for the Greater London Authority. It included the launch of the FGSL Interim Report (October 2016), showing the wide ranging benefits of food growing. There was also FGSL’s very own Junior Gardener’s Question Time, chaired by former Blue Peter Gardener Chris Collins – with food growing questions answered by children from schools across London.

When he attended the last Schools Marketplace at City Hall, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “ I’m really pleased to host the Schools Marketplace in City Hall. I want to help Londoners to have access to better food, and lead healthier lifestyles, so it’s great to see these young people growing their own grub and developing entrepreneurial skills.”

Students from schools in Croydon, Ealing, Greenwich, Haringey, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Richmond and Southwark took part, and won prizes as part of the *Schools Marketplace Competition.

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 at the Schools Marketplace, selling produce from the Trafalgar Infant School stall (Richmond) to City Hall staff. Jane Baker/Garden Organic

*Schools Marketplace participants and competition prize winners:

  • Athelney Primary School, Lewisham
  • Charlton Park Academy, Greenwich
  • Dormers Wells High School, Ealing
  • Elmwood Primary School, Croydon
  • *Holy Trinity C of E Primary School, Lewisham: Winners – ‘Best Dressed Stall’
  • *Kelvin Grove Primary School, Lewisham: Winners – ‘People’s Choice’
  • Reay Primary School, Lambeth
  • *Rokesly Junior School, Haringey: Winners – ‘Most Enterprising Product’
  • Rotherhithe Primary School, Southwark
  • Trafalgar Infant School, Richmond

Mark Dale-Emberton, Principle at Charlton Park Academy, Greenwich said: “Working with Food Growing Schools: London has helped us re-evaluate and reenergise the staff and students. We have looked afresh at our curriculum and how we can use the food that we grow to improve our meals, health and general wellbeing.”

Since their launch in 2013, Food Growing Schools: London have seen an amazing 25 out of 33 London boroughs step up to promote food growing in schools. The Benefits of Food Growing are impressive and far reaching – showing a positive impact on children’s physical and mental health, environment and education, and the local community and economy. Nearly 80% of schools engaged with FGSL have reported improved behaviour or attainment in students as a result of food growing, and one in four schools now use food growing as a teaching tool linked to curriculum activities. The FGSL report, containing the outcomes of an independent project evaluation by University of the West England, celebrates the successes of this innovative London-wide partnership, led by Garden Organic. The project is supported by the Mayor of London and the Big Lottery Fund.

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.”

Speakers at the celebration event included Chris Collins (former Blue Peter Gardener, Broadcaster and Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic), James Campbell (CEO Garden Organic), Judy Orme (Professor of Public Health and Sustainability) and Mat Jones (Associate Professor of Public Health, University of West England).

Chris Collins, Broadcaster and Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic said: “I’m lucky to be out and about meeting students all the time, and it’s been amazing to see the difference Food Growing Schools: London is having in our London schools. The food growing support, resources and expertise the partnership provides is fantastic. Every school should take advantage and get involved!”

Whether you are already growing food in your school, you wish to get started, or you represent an organisation who can help, Food Growing Schools: London is open to all to Get Involved.

Ends


Notes

Jane Baker – Communications Officer, Food Growing Schools: London
07474210703 (PT – Mon to Thurs only)
jbaker@gardenorganic.org.uk
www.foodgrowingschools.org / https://twitter.com/FoodGrowSchools

Spokespeople – Chris Collins (Broadcaster and Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic) and James Campbell (CEO Garden Organic)

Food Growing Schools: London is an ambitious Lottery funded project, supported by the Mayor of London that aims to get every London school growing their own food. Garden Organic as the lead organisation is working together with partners, Capital Growth, the Soil Association’s Food For Life project, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), School Food Matters and Trees for Cities. The Schools Marketplace, organised with FGSL partner Capital Growth, took place as part of Grow Your Own Business 2016. #GYOBusiness

FGSL Interim Project Report (October 2016)*
An independent project evaluation by University of the West England (Bristol), summarising the progress of the programme in its third year, assessing the impacts of FGSL for participants and wider stakeholders, focusing on schools and those supporting school food growing. To download the full report visit: Our Achievements

*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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Young Marketeers Harvest Sale

Thursday 6 October 2016, 11am-2pm. Borough Market

Fifteen schools from Southwark and beyond will head to Borough Market laden with Autumn produce on October 6 for the 5th anniversary of the Young Marketeers Harvest Sale.

See the children in action between 11 and 2pm and purchase their delicious school-grown produce.

Beginning with whole school assemblies delivered by FareShare, children in the participating schools have been learning about the challenges of food poverty and the absurdity of food waste.

For the Harvest Sale Chris Collins, former Blue Peter Gardener, has been teaching primary school children the art of growing veg from seed and Borough Market traders share their trade secrets on how to create a winning market stall.

All proceeds from the Young Marketeers sales will go to food surplus charity FareShare, and every £ raised = 4 meals for vulnerable families. Their lovely film will tell you the whole story! Find out more (School Food Matters).

Interested in starting your own school food growing business?  Check out our new FREE Grow Your Own Business themed pack for Autumn 2016 – it’s packed full of ideas and tips to help your students to Sow It. Grow It. Sell It!

Download the pack now to find links to enterprise resources, activity sheets, partner events, competitions, and top tips on growing, cooking and selling your school produce, and much much more…

Celebrating our success – a City Hall event

FGSL growing activities at the Edible Garden Show. Photo: Jane Baker/Garden Organic
FGSL growing activities at the Edible Garden Show. Photo: Jane Baker/Garden Organic

We are delighted to announce that we will be celebrating the success of Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) with a special event in the London’s Living Room at City Hall on Thursday 13 October, from 10.45am to 1.30pm, including lunch.

The event will be hosted by the GLA and opened by the Deputy Mayor of London Joanne McCartney. It will be a fantastic opportunity to bring together people from across the capital that have been part of our journey and that join us in our ambition to get every London school growing their own food!

Coinciding with our final Schools Marketplace in partnership with Capital Growth at City Hall, everyone coming to the event will also have the opportunity to visit the 15 stalls held by children on the Lower Ground floor. As always, schools will showcase their food growing by selling school grown produce and products such as chutneys, jams, herbs and winter salads. What better way to start our FGSL celebration than to see enterprising schools at work! The Schools Marketplace takes place as part of Grow Your Own Business activities this Autumn term.

Speakers at the celebration event include Chris Collins (Broadcaster and Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic), James Campbell (CEO Garden Organic), Professor Judy Orme MFPH (MSc Health Promotion), and Mat Jones MPhil, BA, PG Cert (University of West England) who will share the great successes of Food Growing Schools: London to date.

It will be a chance to look at why food growing is important and the transformational impact it can have on children and schools that get involved. We will hear first-hand from teachers and children about the benefits and why they think EVERY school in London should grow their own food.

To find out more and to book a place visit Eventbrite.

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