Colour your garden – London artist offers free mural for your school garden

Could your garden or growing space do with a bright mural? Alessandra Tortone, a London based mural artist is offering to add a splash of colour to your garden!

Garden Organic and Food Growing Schools: London are teaming up with Alessandra to offer you a chance to have a free, bespoke mural (value of £500) painted on a wall or surface in your school or your school’s community garden growing space.

To enter the competition, you’ll need a bright idea and 1-3 concept drawings or artwork, preferably done by pupils involved in gardening at yours school. Here’s how to participate in the competition.

Meet the artist

Maybe you’ve seen Alessandra’s work around London?

One of her most well-known commercial projects has been a collaboration with Paul Sweeney to produce large size wall murals for more than 50 Starbucks coffee shops in the Greater London area.

But about her main passion, Alessandra says, “my favourite projects are children’s murals. They are fun, full of imagination and can transform a space into a magical world. In addition to creating jaw-dropping children’s bedrooms, I worked for a number of nurseries and children’s hospitals in London including Whittington Hospital in Archway and Queensbury Nursery in South Kensington.”

Her journey as an artist started in 2000 in her home of Sardinia, Italy. She says, “though I graduated as an accountant (this career lasted only 20 days!), my passion for painting was stronger. With a support of my family I was able to pursue my true calling. I attended a number of painting and drawing courses in both Rome and Sardinia. As a result, my art works progressed from smaller scale projects into larger wall murals and frescos in private homes and restaurants in Sardinia.”

Ready to participate?

The deadline for submissions is Friday 1 December so don’t hesitate!

Get the full competition details here.

Congratulations! ‘Grow’ book prize draw winners

FGSL Competition - Grow book prizes by Ben RaskinDuring February Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) teamed up with Author Ben Raskin and Leaping Hare Press to launch an exciting prize draw. For London schools to win ‘Grow’, a fantastic new illustrated book helping children to get inspired to grow food. We received a huge number of entries from primary schools all across London, with many sharing their exciting plans to grow food with students this year.

Announcing the ‘Grow’ book winners
Congratulations to the following schools who won ‘Grow’ the book:

  • St Leonards Church of England School, Lambeth
  • Linton Mead primary School, Greenwich
  • Cranford Primary School, Hounslow
  • Stoneydown Park Primary School, Waltham Forest
  • Streatham Wells Primary School, Lambeth
  • Akiva School, Barnet
  • Reay Primary School, Lambeth
  • Gilbert Colvin, Redbridge
  • Marner Primary School, Tower Hamlets

Three lucky schools were also picked to receive ‘Grow’, and a visit from the Author Ben Raskin to bring the activities in the book alive. Congratulations to you too. We will be in touch soon to arrange a time to visit your school:

  • St Joseph’s Primary School, Wandsworth
  • King Athelstan Primary, Kingston Upon Thames
  • Abbotsfield School, Hillingdon

We were particularly excited to hear lots of exciting plans to grow food in your schools this year, including:

” We are starting the Edible playgrounds project in February, so we are expecting the whole school to be involved in growing.  We will be including parents and making sure that all classes are using the garden for lessons across the curriculum.”

” In Year 3  [we will be growing] pumpkins to look at how feeding the soil helps hungry plants, in Year 4 herbs to support learning about the Romans, peppers in Year 5 to learn about the Americas and in Year 6 [growing] tomatoes and cucumber to make Israeli salads! “

First one hundred schools – win a ‘Grow’ activity pack
If you were quick off the mark you may be one of the first 100 schools to enter who have won an exclusive, limited-edition ‘Grow’ activity pack. Keep an eye out for one winging its way to your school. It includes games such as Worms and Ladders, Compost Bingo, seeds and stickers! Fingers crossed!

There are lots of competitions, offers and funds available to help schools grow food this Spring. Find out more here – good luck: Competitions

FGSL support and inspiration to grow
We hope that our ‘Grow’ book competition has inspired your primary school to grow food. If you are looking for help or ideas to get started FGSL can help. We provide the following support and more:

  • Join Spring into Growing 2017 – Plan it. Build it. Grow it!
  • Free school food growing activity packs and learning resources
  • Training and events
  • Advice from dedicated School Engagement Officers
  • Support from six expert partner organisations

Find out how FGSL can help your school here: Support to grow

Happy growing this Spring!

Grandparent Gardening Week Competition

Food For Life Grandparent Gardening WeekIt’s not too late to get involved in Food for Life’s Grandparent Gardening Week. Taking place from 27-31 March 2017, Grandparent Gardening Week is a great way to involve your community in school life and kick start your garden into action after the winter.

This year there is a great competition to get involved in too*. Prizes include a Polytunnel, roll out sensory garden and a veg trug!  Just share your Grandparent Gardening Week photos on Twitter using the hashtag #FFLGGWeek. Competition deadline – 28 April 2017

Hosting a gardening activity
Ask  a team of students to lead the Grandparent Gardening Week activities, involving your school cook and DT lead. Ask what crops they would like to see grown, think about where they might plant them or how your school cook could use them in their recipes, linking the crops with the kitchen and classroom learning. Share ideas and plans across the school to involve everyone in the fun! The Food for Life Awards Package provides plenty of expert growing resources, including Garden Organic growing cards. For a template poster, media invite and press release visit: Grandparent Gardening Week.

Spring into Growing – Plan it. Build it. Grow it!
You can also dip into FGSL Spring into Growing 2017 resources to help you get growing together on Grandparent Gardening Day. For more ideas on how to work with your local community visit FGSL Support.

Get your grandparents involved – happy growing together!

*Please note – you need to be a Food for Life school to enter the competition. Membership starts at just £25. Find out more here


Prize draw launches: Win ‘Grow’ – the book!

GROW by Ben Raskin. Leaping Hare Press.
GROW by Ben Raskin. Leaping Hare Press.

Be one of only 10 London primary schools to win a copy of ‘Grow’, a fantastic new illustrated book helping children to get inspired to grow food, and a visit from the author!

Plus, the first 100 schools to enter will also win an exclusive, limited-edition activity pack. It includes games such as Worms and Ladders, Compost Bingo, seeds and stickers! FGSL have teamed up with Ben Raskin and Leaping Hare Press for this exciting prize draw. This prize draw launches on Tuesday 17 January 2017.

About Grow – the book

In Grow, a beautifully illustrated guide to growing by Ben Raskin, Head of Horticulture at the Soil Association, you’ll get all the inspiration and knowledge you need to get out there and start planting.

Have you ever wondered how plants work? Or why we eat the fruit of one plant, but the leaves of another? What’s the big deal about growing things – and how do we decide what we need to grow in the space we have? Discover the whole life cycle of food, from sowing and saving to planning and planting, and – most exciting of all – harvesting the food you’ve grown. Ben Raskin’s books Grow and Compost come complete with some fantastic activity ideas to get children excited about growing food.

To enter: answer a few simple questions on Survey Monkey and make sure you have completed the FGSL survey. Deadline to enter: 5pm, Thursday 9 February 2017. More details here: Competitions.

*This prize draw is open to all London primary schools who have completed our FGSL survey only.


RHS Young Herb Photographer of the Year – last chance to enter!

RHS Herb Photographer of the Year. Photo by previous winner Indra Woodward.
RHS Herb Photographer of the Year. Photo by previous winner Indra Woodward.

There are now less than two weeks to get your pupils’ or students’ entries in for this year’s RHS young Herb Photographer of the Year!

RHS have teamed up with Vitacress again for this year’s competition – a great chance for your young photographers to win some fantastic prizes for them and your school or group.

They are looking for young people to send us their photographs of living herbs growing in the wild, a garden, a container or a setting of their choice. The photo can be of any herb(s) and could be growing in the UK or abroad. Photographs can also be from any season taken in the past or present.

Categories and prizes:

There are two categories for the competition: 5-10 year olds and 11-17 year olds. Two winners, one from each category, will be crowned RHS Young Herb Photographer of the Year and receive an iPad Air worth around £300 and £500 worth of horticultural materials for their school. One runner up from each category will receive an iPad Mini and £250 of horticultural materials for their school or group.

Find out more and enter here

Edible Playgrounds launches ‘Grow On, Film It’ short film competition

4 January 2016

Edible Playgrounds (EP), a project by Trees for Cities, is inviting London food growing schools, to participate in its new ‘Grow On, Film It!’ short film competition.

EP will ask school pupils to create short films about planting, sowing, growing, gardening, and harvesting healthy food at school. Horticulturalist and Trees for Cities patron Chris Collins will be judging the competition with £600 worth of gardening and growing equipment up for grabs and the winning entry featured on the EP and Food Growing Schools: London websites.  Entries close: Friday, 17 June 2016

‘Grow on, Film It!’ will run in conjunction with Food Growing Schools: London’s #Growathon –  which aims to inspire 10,000 London students to get growing and join the biggest school food growing challenge of the year.

Kate Sheldon, Acting Chief Executive said “We’re delighted to be launching ‘Grow On, Film It!’ as part of Food Growing Schools: London’s #Growathon. More and more schools are valuing the importance of teaching children about growing and eating healthy foods. ‘Grow On, Film It!’ will give schools and students the ability to showcase that.”

Edible Playgrounds transform outdoor areas in school grounds into fully functional food growing spaces, giving children the opportunity to grow, harvest and eat good food. EP get children living in urban areas excited about growing food and understanding where food comes from.

The charity has already created over 25 Edible Playgrounds in London and in cities across the UK.

For more information visit:

Short Film Competition from Edible Playgrounds – Still time to enter

08 May 2016

As part of the Food Growing Schools: London Growathon challenge Edible Playgrounds and Trees for Cities are asking pupils in London to make a short film about food growing at their school.

Make a short film (3 minutes or under) about planting, sowing, growing, gardening and harvesting healthy food at school and win £500 worth of gardening equipment!

Former Blue Peter Gardener and Trees for Cities Patron, Chris Collins will head a panel of judges to decide on the winning entry. There is no limit to how many short films each school can submit, which means fun class projects for all! All films must be submitted by 5pm Friday 17 June. The winning entry will be featured on the Trees for Cities YouTube channel and Food Growing Schools London website.

Good luck!


  • 1st prize – £500 worth of gardening and growing equipment
  • 2nd prize – £100 worth of gardening and growing equipment
  • Every school submitting a short film will receive a seasonal growing pack

How to Enter

Visit: for details on how to enter and for your chance to win! Entries close: Friday, June 17, 2016

Showcase your growing: the Marketplace competition

26 April 2016

This year all Marketplace schools can apply to enter the ‘Showcase your Growing’ competition. This competition will be a chance to show us how you have grown and nurtured your school garden to prepare for the marketplace with pictures, recipes and stories!
The entries will be judged on the day of the Marketplace and the winning school will be awarded a great prize including a great set of Bulldog Tools, a certificate and much more.

You will need to create and bring at the Marketplace one A2 sheet displaying the following:

  • Your school name and logo
  • Pictures of your plots and pupils caring for the plants
  • Pictures of pupils and / or school staff harvesting and weighing your produce
  • Pictures of pupils and school staff baking and making produce out of your garden fruits and veg
  • A mix of any of the following: recipes, growing tips and stories about your school garden

The Marketplace is an event organise by Capital Growth in partnership with Food Growing Schools: London. It is part of FGSL wider initiative the Growathon.


Grow your Own Picnic: Competitions and Offers 2015


Grow Your Own Picnic 2015

Sow it. Grow it. Share it! – Summer Term

A celebration of summer, sunshine and food growing in your school playground. Plant a seed, and watch your school garden grow. Then share a delicious home-grown lunch with your friends, school and community – on your very own Picnic Day! Learn how to grow, cook and prepare home-made dips, sandwiches, salads, and desserts – packed full of nature’s goodness. A picnic feast for the whole community.

Why Grow Your Own Picnic?

Grow Your Own Picnic gives your school the opportunity to engage all pupils, teachers and the local community through your school garden, by growing, cooking and sharing your produce, and using it to deliver elements of your school curriculum.

AnchorCompetitions and Offers 2015

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, with competition sponsor Michael Hedges, Managing Director of Chase Organics and The Organic Gardening Catalogue, awarding first prize for the Grow Your Own School Garden Competition to Richard Challoner School, Kingston. Photo Jane Baker/Garden Organic
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, with competition sponsor Michael Hedges, Managing Director of Chase Organics and The Organic Gardening Catalogue, awarding first prize for the Grow Your Own School Garden Competition to Richard Challoner School, Kingston. Photo Jane Baker/Garden Organic

Grow Your Own School Garden Competition 2015

For schools who are not yet growing

The Food Growing Schools: London partnership launched a fantastic new London schools gardening competition for London schools to enter who aren’t yet growing food. Schools had to create a garden team, plan a school garden from scratch and create and equipment wishlist.

Congratulations – to the following three winning London schools:

1st Prize – Richard Challoner School (Kingston)
2nd Prize – Our Lady of Grace Catholic Infant School (Brent)
3rd Prize – Richmond Park Academy (Richmond)

Award Ceremony – took place at the Schools Marketplace, City Hall on Thursday 9th July 2015.

Expert Judge – the competition was judged by Chris Collins, BBC TV Gardener.

Competition Sponsors – The Organic Gardening Catalogue, Haxnicks, VegTrug.

Competition details here: News and Competitions

The Organic Gardening Catalogue

Veg Trug Logo Haxnicks logo

Grow Your Own Picnic 2015
Photography Competition

Capital Growth also ran a photography competition to celebrate what London schools are growing, as part of Grow Your Own Picnic 2015.

Congratulations – to the following three winning London schools:

  • Trafalgar Infant School. Category: Picture of your garden/produce taken by a child under 18 (below, portrait)
  • Brunswick Park School. Category: Pupils planting, harvesting, cooking or eating your picnic (below, left)
    Christchurch Primary School. Category: School volunteers helping pupils in the garden (below, right)

Brunswick Park School_GYOP2015 competition winners   Christ Church Primary_GYOP2015 competition winners

Trafalgar Infants_GYOP2015 competition winners

Events 2015

Schools Marketplace, City Hall

Schools receive surprise Mayor of London visit at the School’s Marketplace, City Hall

Christ Church Church of England School (Battersea, Wandsworth) eagerly selling their school produce at the Schools Marketplace at City Hall.Christ Church Church of England School (Wandsworth) eagerly selling their school produce at the Schools Marketplace at City Hall. Photo: Jane Baker/Garden Organic.

The Schools’s Marketplace at City Hall, on Thursday 9th July, was a huge success, with 10 London schools battling their way through the London tube strike to arrive laden with produce to sell to the public. During the School’s Marketplace the school’s had a surprise visit from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson who visited every one of their stalls and went home with armfuls of school-grown produce. As you can imagine, the students (and teachers!), were very excited to welcome this special guest.

Grow Your Own School Garden Competition – Announcing the Winners!

At the School’s Marketplace The Mayor of London also took part in giving out the prizes at our ‘Grow your Own School Garden Competition’ Award Ceremony, with our generous competition sponsors. A huge thank you to The Organic Gardening Catalogue, Haxnicks and VegTrug for donating the competition prizes. Congratulations to the following three schools who received their awards to huge applause, and look forward to setting up their own school gardens. Read more.

Schools Marketplace, Thurs 9 July 2015 – participating school stallholders:

Congratulations to all these enterprising schools. You were amazing!

  • Bensham Manor, Croydon
  • Bethnal Green Academy, Tower Hamlets
  • Charlton Park Academy, Greenwich
  • Christ Church CE Primary, Wandsworth
  • Glebe School, Bromley
  • Park View Secondary, Haringey
  • Rhyl Primary, Camden
  • Selwyn Primary, Newham
  • The UCL Academy, Camden
  • Trafalgar Infant School, Richmond

To find out more about the day visit our News page and Flickr photo gallery.

Rosie Boycott (Mayor of London Food Advisor) and Thomasina Miers (former Masterchef winner) at Phoenix High School Farm for Grow Your Own Picnic 2014. Photo: Eleonore De Bonneval/Garden OrganicRosie Boycott (Mayor of London Food Advisor) and Thomasina Miers (former Masterchef winner) at Phoenix High School Farm for Grow Your Own Picnic 2014. Photo: Eleonore De Bonneval/Garden Organic

Past Picnic Events – 2014

Grow Your Own Picnic last took place in Summer 2014, to coincide with the launch of Food Growing Schools: London. Read the summary below or download the full story (PDF).

Grow Your Own Picnic 2014 and the launch of Food Growing Schools: London
Sun, salad and school growing success! Food Growing Schools: London launched with a flurry of tasty picnic events at schools across London, on Friday 20th June 2014, taking place on the first Grow Your Own Picnic day.The official Food Growing Schools: London launch event, at the inspiring Phoenix High School Farm and Learning Zone, was buzzing with enthusiasm  from local authorities, educational institutions, and public health leaders from across London boroughs. Tucking into a tasty picnic lunch cooked by Ben Tish, Founder and Head Chef of Saltyard Restaurant Group, they listened to an impressive line-up of talks from the Mayor of London’s Food Advisor, Rosie Boycott, Master Chef winner Thomasina Miers, Bill Scott, Professor of Education at the University of Bath and lead partner Garden Organic. Rosie Boycott said; ‘The Mayor and I want to see every school in London growing food. We’ve made huge progress with many pupils in the capital now reaping the rewards of outdoor learning. This new initiative will help us go further, reaching more schools and helping existing growers expand.’

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