From Seed to Market – Chris Collins and the Young Marketeers Harvest Sale

“There is nothing like the sound of children taking over a market place!” – Chris Collins.

The Young Marketeers Harvest & Apple Sale is coming up on 5 October at Borough Market. Chris Collins who works with School Food Matters to deliver the project and is best known as a former TV Blue Peter gardener, writes to tell us what this school food growing project is all about:

Young Marketeers is an exciting project that has been running for 6 years with support from various organisations including School Food Matters, United St Saviour’s Charity, FareShare and Garden Organic.

The project focus is on advising schools on food growing and providing workshops to teach primary school children to grow veg from seed with an emphasis on seed to plate, encouraging healthy eating by getting children to grow food. It has, in my opinion, been a resounding success.

Young Marketeers takes things a step beyond growing food and with the help of the famous Borough Market, we introduced an entrepreneurial element, where the food the children grow is taken to market and sold to customers.

There is nothing like the sound of children taking over a market place! They are incredible sales people and they do have the advantage of fresh produce to sell – fresh produce they have personally grown.

There are a real mix of children involved with the project because the schools included are primary, secondary and special needs.

The journey starts with workshops in early spring. That’s where I start getting involved. I undertake these workshops at Borough Market itself and can have 25 schools in two sittings – it’s a giant seed sowing party.

We do two lots of crops; one for a summer sale and one for the autumn sale. I teach them seed sowing in trays, pricking out, sowing in drills and how to look after your plants. This advice can be accompanied by school visits I do from time to time but it’s up to the school and the pupils to grow and present produce for sale at the market when the time comes. The children are also given a tour around the market to get tips on sales techniques and how to set up a stall.

What an effort is made when market day comes – the stalls themselves are always presented in fantastic fashion, with children’s artwork and displays really making the produce stand out. The star of the show though has to be the produce the kids have grown. It’s incredibly rewarding for me to see how closely they have listened and, as always their amazing enthusiasm. You can never tire of gardening with children and this project highlights just how much they get it of it.

I will be at the Autumn Sale on 5 October, representing Garden Organic, School Food Matters and Food Growing Schools: London. We always have some esteemed company as the mayor of Southwark attends and usually the local MP, which in itself attracts the media, creating yet another experience for our young growers.

My work doesn’t end there though as I have the impossible task of picking the winning stall…wish me luck, I’m going to need it!”

Christopher M Collins,
Head of Organic Horticulture
Garden Organic

Are you looking to get your school involved in food growing and enterprise activities? Find free resources on our website to get you started, like our Grow Your Own Business activity pack!

Up Next: Young Marketeers Harvest & Apple Sale

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

Brand new for this year is an Apple Sale which will see students learn all about planting, harvesting and storing heritage variety apples to help tackle the issues around surplus autumn fruit.

Head on down to the Market Hall between 11.30 – 1.30pm to show your support and help raise money for FareShare, an organisation fighting hunger and tackling food waste.

For more information please visit the School Food Matters website.

Grow Your Own Picnic

Time to Grow Your Own Picnic!
Time to Grow Your Own Picnic!

What better way to show off the school’s new-found gardening skills than to Grow Your Own Picnic to share with pupils, parents and the local community.

The FREE Grow Your Own Picnic Pack from Food Growing Schools: London is jammed full of advice, tips and activities to help you plan and grow crops and then turn them into delicious home-made dips, sandwiches, salads and other delights to create a summer picnic feast.

The pack also includes advice for linking with your local community to generate support for your growing activities and to share the spoils of success at the end of the summer term.

So what are you waiting for? Download the Grow Your Own Picnic pack now and start to harvest the benefits of school food growing.