” The spirit of the Big Dig is what community gardening is all about “
Join Capital Growth and gardens across the capital to kick off the growing season on this annual volunteer open day. Every spring, hundreds of volunteers pull on their wellies and head outside to help community gardens get ready to grow.
In 2016, in London over 40 gardens took part, welcoming over 750 volunteers to help shovel compost, build trellises, plant seedlings and enjoy a hard day’s work in the company of friends and neighbours.
The Big Dig across the UK
The Big Dig started as an event run by Capital Growth in 2012 to engage volunteers in their local food-growing space. It was initially funded as a nationwide project, managed by Sustain, recruiting 7,500 new volunteers to take part in community gardening.
The network continues to work with cities in the UK. Community gardens in London, Manchester and Birmingham can register for their local Big Dig 2017 via their city’s Big Dig Map.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Our Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) survey has shown that many schools are looking for support to get growing, through training, resources and class activities. Our free, fun and engaging FGSL assembly is bringing inspiration to schools with groups of any age and size across the Capital.
Our assemblies: the results?
So far, over 2,000 pupils have welcomed an assembly – learning why slugs have noses and tomatoes are carnivores! And of course about the benefits of growing your own food, and how you can Grow Your Own Business and build a career as a result. Schools are telling us that they’ve really benefited from the whole school talking about food growing all together.
North Ealing Primary learnt that they can successfully grow produce on their fully concreted grounds. And so can you. You don’t need a designated space, you can use window sill planters and create vertical gardens or even grow on the roof! We’ve seen lots of schools doing this – like John Ruskin Primary in Southwark.
Since our assembly at Manorfield Primary School in Tower Hamlets, all 711 children have sampled tasters of different fruit and vegetables to give input to a planting plan, and the school are working with Trees for Cities to develop a fully functioning Edible Playground.
Set up your school garden from scratch
Our Spring into Growing activities this term are perfect for helping your school set up a garden from scratch. Learn the secrets to planning and constructing your school garden, working with recycled materials and nature, and developing a productive growing space, with the help of your local community. Plan it. Build it. Grow it! Check out this information from the Royal Horticultural Society too, and an abundance of other FGSL resources for inspiration.
After a food growing assembly for your school?
They are popular! Join the waiting list – simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest, stating whether you’re a primary or secondary and your borough.
The Real Bread Campaign, run by our friends at Sustain, have teamed up with Grow Your Own Playground to guide schoolchildren across the capital on a year-long journey from seed to sandwich.
The hands-on project sees school food growing expert Cassie Liversidge visit each school to share with classes of up to 60 pupils the fact that Real Bread starts life in a field, not a factory.
During the exciting educational experience, pupils roll up their sleeves to plant wheat in winter or spring; nurture it until harvest time; then gather, thresh, winnow and mill the grain into flour. The culmination is a baking day, when each child makes a loaf to take home to share with their family.
The full programme has four stages:
Build: Construction of a solid wood planter that will last for years to come.
Sow: Children prepare the seed bed and plant the wheat seeds, learning how to care for it.
Grow and Harvest: Grow Your Own Playground makes two visits to check how the wheat is growing and harvest the crop in the late summer or early autumn.
Bake: A fun and informative Real Bread making day, when children get to mill their wheat and bake a loaf to take home.
Maria Lewington, headteacher at John Scurr Primary School said: “We so look forward to our Lessons in Loaf. The baking day is full of meaningful and collaborative learning. Every part of the curriculum is alive throughout the day and every child receives an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
The project partners, along with the Worshipful Company of Bakers, work to find an expert baker local to the school to join in with the baking day, allowing children to learn about the profession, and the school to build community business links.
The Real Bread Campaign would be keen to hear from anyone who can help fund their work on the project, or sponsor schools to participate.
London school teachers, governors and gardeners can express their interest in the project at:
Lessons in Loaf: London is a collaboration between the Real Bread Campaign (which launched Lessons in Loaf nationally in 2010 and Bake Your Lawn a year later) and Cassie Liversidge, who has been helping London schools to grow wheat to bake into bread since 2010 as part of Grow Your Own Playground. Cassie’s work on the project is sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Bakers.
The Real Bread Campaign is part of the food and farming charity Sustain, which also runs London Food Link and its Capital Growth network of community food growing spaces.
Lessons in Loaf is a trademark of Sustain.
Lessons In Loaf: London offers the choice of three packages, each for up to 60 pupils, tailored to a school’s specific needs:
Package 1: The full Build, Sow, Grow and harvest, and Bake programme outlined above. Cost: £2,254.99
Package 2: The Sow, Grow and Harvest, and Bake programme outlined above. (Suitable if the wheat can be planted into an existing bed with new compost added no planter building is required) Cost £2,040.00
Taster: If a school registers too late to plant the wheat, they can try the Bake day to whet their appetite and do the whole package the following academic year. Cost £1,020.00
Consultation: If there is any doubt that this project will be possible at a particular school, Grow Your Own Playground can offer a consultation visit. A professional gardener will visit your school, talk through the whole project and discuss the best location within the school grounds for the wheat to grow. Cost: £150.00
If you’re not currently growing food, or just getting started on your food growing journey, our new school assembly programme could be just for you.
Over the summer, the Food Growing Schools: London team have been beavering away to get a fun, engaging and informative assembly ready to be delivered in schools this autumn term. The idea is that the assembly is taken into schools that are yet to enjoy all the benefits of food growing, so that we can inspire teachers and pupils and make it even easier to get started.
The short assembly is linked to the curriculum, suitable for all ages and can be tailored for the needs of your school. It will get your pupils thinking about where our food comes from, why food growing is important and what can be grown within the school gates. Team the assembly with our free tips and resources and we’ll have you growing your own in no time at all!
Interested? Book your free school assembly – and receive:
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.