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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Mayor of London supports London food events

This week has seen the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan support innovative London food initiatives at the Urban Food Awards, held at Borough Market. The event was organised by Sustain during Urban Food Fortnight 2016, masterminds behind our FGSL partner project Capital Growth. Among the award finalists were Berrymede Junior School in Ealing who were shortlisted* for Capital Growth’s Growing Enterprise Award, for entrepreneurs generating income from and for their community food gardens, including schools.

FGSL City Hall event – only 3 weeks to go!

Are you inspired by Berrymede Junior School to grow food in your school? Come along to our FGSL Celebration Event at City Hall, opened by the Deputy Mayor of London Joanne McCartney, and find out more about how Food Growing Schools: London can help you do the same. There are only 3 weeks to go before the GLA opens the doors of City Hall to Food Growing Schools: London! Places are limited so book soon.

At the Urban Food Awards Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “I salute the breadth and expertise of the huge numbers of Londoners producing and growing the very best food and drink and it’s fantastic to see their entrepreneurship flourishing in our great city”.

Book your place  at our City Hall event

Our celebration event takes place on Thursday 13 October 2016, from 10.45 – 1.30pm in the prestigious London’s Living Room at City Hall. It will be a fantastic opportunity to bring together people from across the capital to join us in seeking  our ambition to get every London school growing their own food! And you can tuck in to some tasty school-grown produce downstairs in our sixth Schools Marketplace, as part of this Autumn terms Grow Your Own Business activities.

At the event you can meet our expert FGSL partners and hear about school food growing initiatives taking place all across London. 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 project is supported by the Big Lottery Fund and the Greater London Authority.


*Notes

Berrymede Junior School launched their Edible Playground in October 2015, with the support of our partners Trees for Cities, School Food Matters and Soil Association Food For Life. In only one year they have achieved so much – from garden fork to enterprising school food project, and now finalists in the Urban Food Awards. Amazing! Forty Hall Community Vineyard scooped the winning prize for Capital Growth’s Growing Enterprise Award. To check out the other winners visit the Sustain website.

FGSL News August 2015

12 August 2015

Breakers Yard Pocket Park

Mayor celebrates delivery of 100 pocket parks across London

A green scheme launched by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to create 100 new pocket parks in the capital has been so successful there are plans to roll it out across the country.

The Mayor has today confirmed he has delivered his manifesto pledge to create 100 rejuvenated spaces as part of his pocket parks programme in 26 London boroughs.

From a rain garden in Vauxhall to a dinosaur playground in Hornsey and edible gardens along a south London bus route, more than 25 hectares of community land across the capital have been converted into new enhanced green areas, thanks to £2million of funding from the Mayor. This was match-funded from the Boroughs, as well as grants from businesses and trusts.

The programme to transform underused urban spaces across the city into mini oases for Londoners to enjoy has been a roaring success and proposals to develop it nationwide are being considered by the government.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “From what started as a green shoot in 2012, dozens of glorious spaces have sprouted up across almost every corner of the capital, offering an oasis of calm from the hustle and bustle of city life.

“They may have been pocket-sized pieces of previously forgotten land, but they pack a real punch in what they now offer local people, thousands of whom have given up their time to make the capital greener and more resilient. It really underlines London’s status as one of the greenest world cities.”

To celebrate the success of the programme, there is a free exhibition at City Hall, which runs to 28 August and shares the stories and experiences of 11 people who helped create pocket park projects across London.

A small area in Churchward House, Lambeth, received funding to install planters to compliment a nearby area planted with street trees, which has dramatically changed an area previously just a walkway between houses.

Jenny Jefferies, of Churchward House in Lambeth who helped on the project, said: “Gardens like these give everyone such a lift and make them feel good. I think there is a basic need to be among green things, people living in cities have fewer opportunities to be among plants, trees and flowers.

“By making more gardens and planted trees, we are increasing everyone’s day to day contact with nature. It is relaxing and important to be in the open air in a garden or park, and it is certainly good for our mental wellbeing.”

Pocket parks are part of the Mayor’s wider plans to maintain London’s status as one of the greenest and leafiest cities. He has also delivered 20,000 Street Trees along London’s most congested roads and funds tree and woodland projects via the Community Grant Scheme, which is engaging communities and volunteers across London. The Mayor leads the RE:LEAF partnership of organisations and through this partnership has delivered a range of projects including planting 10,000 trees in Ealing last December.


8 August 2015

Doing porridge: prison, school and hospital meals put to the test

Can prisoners learn to cook five-star meals? Could a top chef overhaul the canteen at an inner-city London primary? Our restaurant critic gives the food the full review

Marina O’Loughlin reports for the Guardian (Saturday 8 August 2015). Scroll down for section headed ‘Gayhurst community school, London E8’.

The first thing that strikes me as I’m buzzed through the gates of the handsome, red-brick Gayhurst school in Hackney, east London, is the aroma. Walking past a splashily painted planter of herbs, I breathe in the fragrance of garlic and spices – very different from the damp cabbage reek I associate with school dinner halls.

Inside, I’m shown to my seat at the end of a long, communal table under the baleful gaze of an enormous cardboard robot. On the table are boards laden with chopped avocado and cucumber salad, and labneh laced with orange blossom water. “It’s one of my cheffy touches,” admits Nicole Pisani, the former head chef of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Nopi, who caused waves when she left that high-profile gig to take over the school’s canteen. “I love working here and seeing the kids eat our food, but there has to be something in it for me, too.”

Pisani applied for the job following a tweet from Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon and architect of the School Food Plan, saying that his son’s school was in need of a cook. School hours allow Pisani a quality of life – “I get to see my friends!” – and work on other projects in the holidays. But, watching her talking to the children as they clear their plates, it’s obvious she is utterly committed to the job. “I stand by the bins so I can hear what they’re saying,” she says. “But, just as importantly, I can see exactly what they’re eating.”

See full article in the Guardian (Saturday 8 August 2015).


7 August 2015

Filling the holiday gap

Almost a third (31%) of parents on lower incomes have skipped a meal so that their children could eat during the school holidays, according to a new report.

‘Isolation and Hunger: the impact of the school holidays on struggling families’, issued by Kellogs, revealed that more than six out of ten parents with household incomes of less than £25,000 aren’t always able to afford to buy food outside of term time.

For parents with incomes of less than £15,000, that figure rose to a remarkable 73%, while 41% of parents in those low-income families had skipped meals during the holidays.

School holidays are especially difficult for low-income families whose children usually receive free school meals or support from breakfast clubs.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for School Food has produced a framework entitled Filling the Holiday Gap to support the provision of holiday meals. This is intended to support communities with a framework for providing good food as part of holiday learning, play and activity programmes.

Lindsay Graham, Chair of the Holiday Hunger Task Group said:

“We do not yet know the full scale of holiday hunger in the UK, but there are around 1.7million children who are eligible for free school meals who could go without that valuable daily meal this summer.

School holiday periods are an incredibly difficult time for parents on low incomes as limited household budgets are squeezed. Holiday meal programmes that provide a safe environment and fun activities need to be recognised and supported by government policy. No child should be hungry at any time in this country.”

Rob Percival, Food for Life Policy Officer said:

“It’s scandalous that in one of world’s richest nations so many children are not able to eat well. Our government needs to show true leadership on food and inequalities. There can be few areas of public policy where the positive benefits to lives, health and well-being are potentially as radical as they could be in children’s food and nutrition.”

Read original news story on the FFL website.

Enterprise Food Garden Award winners

Nightingale Primary, Hackney - case study

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