Developing a whole school approach

If you’ve been following our recent blogs you may have plans for food growing, whether that is allocating some space for food growing, gathering resources, or planning food growing into the curriculum.

Wherever you are on your food-growing journey is very exciting, but the maximum benefits come from instigating a whole school approach to food education.

Essentially this is where understanding about all aspects of food (including growing and healthy eating) has senior management support, is throughout the curriculum and in the school development plan.  It is for all pupils and at all times of the day and even influences the wider community.

It may not be easy but it is definitely worth aiming for and we have some school stories to inspire you!

Rhyl Primary School has won numerous awards for the outdoor learning activities but started with just two small raised beds.  All pupils have regular weekly sessions in the garden and outdoor classroom and the school has plans to build a teaching kitchen giving access to community organisations and families, as well as to be used during the school day.

At John Ruskin Primary adopting a whole school approach has increased take up of school dinners and understanding of where food comes from.  Pupils have developed their social and team skills as well as the more practical gardening skills.

Tim Baker, Headteacher at Charlton Manor Primary is so convinced of the wider benefits of food growing that he is helping other local schools and community projects to grow, sharing allotment space and time with the school’s gardener and the school hosts a parent and child growing club.

Recipe for Success:

  1. Getting support from teachers and building their knowledge is key to getting food growing embedded into the school’s ethos.  There are lots of training events and workshops whether you’re a complete beginner or wanting to take your growing activities to the next level
  2. The Soil Association Food for Life Schools Award is designed to support schools to develop a healthy food culture
  3. The RHS School Gardening Awards help schools to work through five different levels, turning their garden into a valuable learning resource for the whole school and the local community

Put food growing on your curriculum

Looking after the seedlings
Looking after the seedlings

‘Lack of time in the curriculum’ came in the top three of barriers to food growing faced by schools in our schools survey. Schools have to achieve so much but instead of being an add-on, food growing can actually help to deliver the curriculum and has been known to increase attainment levels too.

Growing a few spuds or some tomatoes is fun and relatively easy, but it’s when food growing is linked to the curriculum, and ideally across the whole school, that the real magic happens.

At Charlton Manor Primary food growing is incorporated across all subjects and lessons are planned with a gardener and chef to revolve around the garden. Headteacher Tim Baker is convinced this ‘learning through doing’ approach has helped children to make sense of the curriculum as well as encouraging them to lead healthier lives. The school has reported better concentration and behaviour, and increases in attendance and attainment as a result of their whole school approach to food growing.

It’s not just the obvious subjects. FGSL partner Trees for Cities surveyed the 50 schools they have helped and while all Headteachers said that they used their edible playgrounds for Maths and Science lessons, schools were using the garden for other subjects too. English and Art were high on the list with 92%, followed by Design and Technology (76%), Geography (30%), Languages (23%), RE and ICT (15%) and History (7%).

Chisenhale School has made their garden a learning place for the whole school with classes across all subjects being held in their outdoor classroom. Children have also sold the produce, linking food growing to curriculum areas like marketing and enterprise. Parent gardener Cassie Liversidge has seen children who struggle to concentrate in the classroom, building confidence and skills through the garden.

Top ideas for curriculum-linked activities

  • Science – learning about growing plants, wild habitats and lifecycles
  • English – using the garden as inspiration for creative writing
  • Design Technology – constructing wildlife habitats like hedgehog boxes and bird feeders
  • Maths – counting birds and other wildlife, measuring beans or sunflowers
  • Geography – growing different foods from around the world
  • History – Foraging with stone age man, growing herbs for victorian remedies
  • Cooking and nutrition – using organic produce from the garden

Recipe for Success

  1. Build support for food growing with teachers and the management team – share FGSL research on the benefits of food growing.
  2. Take advantage of the huge amount of free resources available online to help link food growing to the curriculum. Start with the Termly Packs from FGSL and growing resources from FGSL Partners including these from the RHS Campaign for School Gardening.

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!


Slug it! Count the slugs in your school garden

RHS Slug it
RHS Slug It!

Slug It! is a brand new initiative to take a closer look at the nation’s most persistent garden pest – the slug!

FGSL partners RHS Campaign for School Gardening are working with the RHS Science team and the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS) on a science experiment that will hopefully unearth a bit more about which control methods will help protect our gardens from slug and snail damage.

Hunt for slugs in your school
As part of this research, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) would like you to help them learn more about which slugs are currently terrorising the nation by taking part in their slug mapping activity. In simple terms, they want you to hunt for slugs and count how many you see!

Great for gardening clubs, after-school clubs or STEM clubs
This is a very simple activity to run with your pupils or students and is particularly great for gardening clubs, after-school clubs or STEM clubs. It will help your pupils work scientifically to gather data on the number of slugs in your grounds and also help them learn more about slugs including what they like to eat and the habitats they prefer to live in.

What you need
Anyone can take part in this activity and all you will need is some very basic equipment such as pencils, wellies and torches and our recording form. To go one step further, you can also use a Slug Identification Key to find out which slug is which or use different equipment to measure temperature, humidity and pH levels of soil to work out what conditions slugs like best. All data will be collected by IRIS and loaded onto an interactive map so that you can see how your findings compare with those of other schools.

If you’d like to join the RHS slug hunt, head to Slug It! Mapping Activity and start counting!

Discover FGSL learning resources, activity sheets and growing tools here: Resources

Forget Halloween, celebrate Pumpkin day!

Your school grown pumpkins are plumping up and it’s time to harvest them.  You may want to help the children carve them with funny faces for Halloween but pumpkins are so much more than just a lantern, so don’t miss the pumpkin party and try out some of these ideas.

Once you have carved out your pumpkins, you can put the insides into a mystery box and have the children dig their hands in to fish out treats or identify objects just by feel.

Pumpkin is a really tasty fruit so don’t throw the flesh away, instead create a yummy base for soups by boiling the stringy insides in water, strain, then add any veggies from your plot to the broth to make a delicious soup. Or try roasting wedges with a bit of salt and cumin to make pumpkin chips the kids will love.

And don’t forget to use all those lovely seeds.  Separate the pumpkin seeds from the flesh by rinsing under running water. Pat dry with a paper towel then put some to one side for planting. (More on this in a bit…)

If you’re feeling crafty, colour some seeds with food dye then thread using a needle to create pumpkin bracelets and necklaces. Or poke holes in a plastic bottle to make a bird feeder for your garden, fill with the pumpkin seeds and watch the wildlife flock.

If you’d like to eat them yourselves, roasted seeds can be the best bit of a pumpkin – not only are they delicious but also nutritious.  Just boil in some salted water, then lay on a tray with a sprinkle of salt and drizzle of oil and bake on a high heat for about 20 mins (depending on the size of the seeds).

And lastly, make sure you store some of the larger seeds in a cool dry spot for planting next Spring – check out this guide to growing from one of our partner organisations, the RHS.

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

TV Gardener Chris Collins inspires at the First Food Growing Schools: London conference

16 March 2016

The very first Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) conference took place at Argyle School in Camden this week.

It was one of two schools conferences FGSL are organising this spring to bring schools from across London together with the aim of inspiring and supporting them to become food growing schools.

The FGSL North London Conference explored a variety of interactive and informative advice and hands-on activities led by London’s school food growing experts. After an inspirational welcome from Chris Collins, famous TV gardener and ambassador for lead partner Garden Organic, the schools conference took place with workshops led by a number of the FGSL partner organisations, including Capital Growth and the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, School Food Matters and Trees for Cities.

The event was also supported by Chase Organic Gardening catalogue, who provided seeds for delegates, and Abel & Cole, who donated fruit baskets for the conference.

The day included a keynote speech from Chris Collins and a “Gardener’s Question Time” where the audience had the opportunity to get valuable advice from the highly skilled panel. Top tips included how to engage teenagers and how to grow using horse manure in your soil, adapting small spaces and following the seasons in the year.

Chris Collins said: “I am delighted to be the keynote speaker for the Food Growing Schools: London Conferences. I really value the opportunity to share my food growing experience with teachers and younger generations. As a long standing ambassador for Garden Organic, I am always keen to support this kind of initiative and get more schools growing.”

A limited number of places are still available for the next FGSL Schools Conference which will be on Monday 11 April in Southwark. For each conference FGSL is offering 50 free places to the schools worth £150 per delegate.

Any London school, teachers and volunteers can access free support, tips and materials by signing up to Food Growing Schools: London.


Outdoor Learning Conference 2016

29 February 2016

Fancy a brilliant day of workshops on topics around outdoor learning, food education and school gardening? Join the 3rd annual Outdoor Learning and ‘Plot to Plate’ Conference – Monday March 7th, 9-3pm.

Special guests this year include The Eden Project from Cornwall, Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen Garden Project, The Royal Horticultural Society and The Garden Classroom. The price is only £50, including lunch and pizza from our wood fired oven. The school band will serenade attendees during the break.

Workshop topics include developing a creative curriculum outdoors, grow-to-sell and numeracy, early years gardening, plot design, cross-curricular links, forest schools in the city, quality cookery in the classroom and wildlife gardening.

Other speakers include Tom Moggach: author of The Urban Kitchen Gardener; Matthew Loveday: wildlife expert; Cassie Liversidge; Jules Rogers; Julie Riehl (Capital Growth) and Sally Stratton.

To reserve your place, please email: or telephone: 020 7485 4899.



FGSL News May 2015

30 May 2015

Michael Palin Launches first Edible Playground in Camden

Carlton Primary Tackles Food Poverty and Childhood Obesity at School

Edible Playgrounds (EP), a project led by Trees for Cities (TfC), to provide schools in urban areas the opportunity to grow food in their playgrounds, today launches an edible playground in Carlton Primary School in Camden, London.

EP benefits children’s health and education by offering those living in urban areas the opportunity to grow, harvest and eat good food, and integrate outdoor learning into the school curriculum. By transforming school grounds into fully functional food growing spaces, EP provides children the opportunity to be active outside – getting them excited about food growing and understanding where food comes from.

Over the last six months, working in partnership with Carlton Primary, Trees for Cities designed and constructed an edible playground in the Camden school. The edible playground contains a greenhouse, vertical herb garden, wormery and vegetable beds, supporting the school to utilise its outdoor space as a learning resource.

Michael Palin, Patron of Carlton Primary School, helped raise funds for the multi-sensory garden and officially opens the edible playground today. Governors, parents and children will attend the opening and explore the garden for the first time.

Jacqueline Phelan, Head Teacher of Carlton Primary School said: “Edible Playgrounds have transformed the outdoor grounds of our school into an incredible food growing space. Children in inner city areas often have limited opportunities to learn and play in natural environments so we are excited that our edible playground will provide our children and local Camden community the opportunity to grow, cook and eat healthy, good food. We are continually striving to encourage our children to be healthier and we view the edible playground as an opportunity to develop this further as well as bring learning outside the classroom.”

Sharon Johnson, Chief Executive of Trees for Cities said: “With increasing concerns around food poverty and malnutrition, the next generation is in danger of losing touch with nature and not knowing why a healthy diet is important. Edible Playgrounds show children how rewarding it is to spend time outdoors and get them excited about where their food comes from. With 37 per cent of children between ages of 5 – 12 not eating enough every day and 20 per cent obese on leaving primary school, more and more schools are now educating their children on how food is grown and on making healthy eating choices. We are delighted that the school community at Carlton Primary has come together to support the launch of an edible playground.”

Michael Palin said: I’m so pleased that Carlton School has been chosen to take part in the Edible Playgrounds project.  It will give the children here, in the middle of a busy city, the chance to learn how food is grown and to help grow it for themselves”.

Trees for Cities has been working in schools to plant fruit and nut trees since 2000. With this track record and experience, TfC’ technical expertise in the delivery of Edible Playgrounds and operations is well established and highly regarded. The first Edible Playground was created in 2003. There are currently over 25 Edible Playgrounds in the UK with a further 50 to be rolled out over the next three years.
The project has also been supported by City Bridge Trust, Mayor of London, Ernest Cook Trust, Volunteer Centre Camden, Ernest Cook Trust.


Media Contacts:
Samantha Lagan: / 020 7820 4426

18 May 2015

Rocket Science

RHSRocket-Science_May2015Turning half a million pupils into space biologists

The RHS Campaign for School Gardening has partnered with the UK Space Agency to embark on an ‘out of this world’ educational project. The project, Rocket Science, will give around half a million UK children the chance to learn how science in space contributes to our knowledge of life on earth, using the invaluable expertise of the European Space Agency (ESA) and RHS Science team.

Two kilograms of rocket seeds will shortly take off from Florida bound for the International Space Station as part of British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s six-month Principia mission. After several months on board, the seeds will return to land in the Pacific Ocean in the spring of 2016. After return to the UK, they will be packaged up with identical seeds that have stayed on earth. Participating schools will each receive two packets of 100 seeds to grow and compare, and a collection of fun and inspiring curriculum linked teaching resources and posters, tailored according to the age of your pupils (Key Stages 1 and 2 or Key Stages 3,4 and 5).

Using these resources, we want pupils of all ages across the UK to embark on a voyage of discovery to see what growing plants in space can teach us about life on Earth and whether we can sustain human life in space through the production of our own food. Schools will be invited to input their results into a national online database so that results can be compared across all schools in the UK. The project is aimed at inspiring pupils to think scientifically and helping them to see the potential of future careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) and Horticulture.

Schools, community groups and educational groups of all ages and abilities will have the chance to apply for a Rocket Science resource pack and take part in our nationwide science experiment from September 2015.Be the first to hear more about the project, including when applications open for resource packs, by registering your interest here:

Schools that register their interest will be the first to know when official applications for the seeds open.

13 May 2015


Michael Palin to Launch Camden’s first Edible Playground

Carlton Primary Tackles Food Poverty and Childhood Obesity at School

When: Tuesday 19th May 2015
Where:  Carlton Primary School, Grafton Road, London, NW5 4AX
Photocall: 2.00pm

Edible Playgrounds (EP), a project led by Trees for Cities (TfC), to provide schools in urban areas the opportunity to grow food in their playgrounds, is launching an edible playground in Carlton Primary School in Camden, London. Michael Palin, Patron of Carlton Primary School, helped raise funds for the multi-sensory garden and officially opens the edible playground on 19th May. Governors, parents and children will attend the opening and explore the garden for the first time.


Email  if you would like to attend the opening and if you are interested in an interview with Sharon Johnson, CEO of Trees for Cities. A photo-call with Michael Palin at the Edible Playground is at 2.00pm, please confirm attendance.

7 May 2015

Schools head to market with School Food Matters

FGSL SURVEY 2016With the help of our fantastic partner School Food Matters, London schools have some enterprising projects up their sleeves this summer term. Follow their progress and buy school-grown produce near you on market day. Schools Food Matters reports:

Young Marketeers – at Borough Market
This project allows children from 16 schools to sell food they have grown at school at Borough Market, the proceeds of any sale going to the charity Fareshare.  May sees the project get started, with Fareshare running assemblies at the schools to introduce the programme, followed by training at Borough Market itself on 14th May 2015. This training will include a hands on gardening tutorial run by TV gardener Chris Collins and a talk about Market trading by some of the stall holders at Borough Market. Over the course of the project, schools will also visit Fareshare to see where the money they will raise is put to use, as well as a visit to the schools by a gardener to see how their growing is going. The project culminates in two sales days, with half the schools selling their produce on the summer sale on the 2nd July and the other half at the harvest sale in September. Young Marketeers.

Schools to Market – at Whole Foods stores
We are starting our great Schools to Market with Whole Foods programme in May, with 36 schools involved across the country. We are now in the third year of this great project and over the this term schools involved will have an assembly run by Whole Foods at their school, a jam and chutney making masterclass by a chef, a visit to a farm and a marketing workshop with Whole Foods. This will culminate in Schools to Market Day in September, where the children sell jams and chutneys they have grown, made and marketed! The purpose of the programme is to teach children all about the value of food and where it comes from. Schools to Market.

To find out more visit the School Food Matters website here







FGSL News April 2015

30 Apr 2015

What the political parties say about school food in the run up to the General Election 2015

On 7 May, the British public will vote in the UK’s biggest election, determining the next Government. Food for Life Partnership have put together a handy overview of the political parties’ positions on school food in the run up to the General Election 2015


  • Take action to reduce childhood obesity and continue to promote clear food information.
  • Continuing with the existing UIFSM policy


  • Set maximum permitted levels of sugar, salt and fat in foods marketed substantially to children.
  • Introduce a legal guarantee for parents of primary school children to access wraparound childcare from 8am to 6pm through their local primary school.

Lib Dem:

  • Extend free school meals to all primary school children.
  • Introduce stricter marketing and advertising rules for junk foods.
  • Further invest in Defra’s Food Plan for Public sector procurement.

Green Party:

  • Extend VAT at standard rate to unhealthy food, and use proceeds to subsidise fresh fruit and veg by 1/3.
  • Extend free ’nutritious’ meals, (with GM free and local ingredients) to all school children.
  • Introduce a Hospital Food Plan.


  • Place a statutory duty on all primary schools to offer before and after-school care from 8am to 6pm during term time, with the option to extend this to all-day provision throughout the school holidays. These sessions will include breakfast and healthy snacks.


  • Expand current free school meal provision and look to work with local authorities to identify future steps to improve support for low income families to help meet the costs associated with school.
  • Offer 30 hours a week free nursery education for all 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds.
  • Make a long term commitment to tackling overweight and obesity, which concentrates on four key areas: food consumption; integrating physical activity into people’s everyday lives; recognising the importance of encouraging health behaviours in the early years; and encouraging employers to take a role in promoting health and wellbeing in and through the workplace.

Plaid Cymru

  • Plaid Cymru supports a tax on sugary drinks and will work with manufacturers to reduce sugar in food and drink.

Information gathered by the Food For Life Partnership. To read each party’s policy in full, please visit their respective websites.

27 April 2015

A good school food culture can help your Ofsted inspection

FoF_CookingBus_London_NicolePisani_PERMISSION-30_03_2015-LOW-70_FGSL news 2015A message to Food For Life Partnership registered schools

We know how important school food is to behaviour, wellbeing and attainment, and Ofsted has now recognised this as well. From September 2015, school food will contribute to how schools are rated by Ofsted in a new Common Inspection Framework.

“Inspectors will look for evidence of a culture or ethos of exercise and healthy eating throughout their entire inspection visit, in classrooms as well as the school canteen. They will look at the food on offer and visit the canteen to see the atmosphere and culture in the dining space and the effect it has on pupils’ behaviour.”

Schools working towards a Food for Life Partnership award will have already collected evidence to demonstrate positive food culture in action. In addition, we are further improving our awards service to help FFLP schools prepare for the healthy eating and school food elements of the new Ofsted Framework.
This is why we need your help. As our BIG Lottery funding comes to an end this summer we need your suggestions to make sure Food for Life continues to transform school food culture in line with the new Ofsted requirements.

Take part in our short survey
Help us to tailor our awards service to meet your needs. The first 100 schools to do so will be entered into a draw to win one of 10 FFLP goodie bags, and one lucky school will be randomly selected to win £200 to spend on cooking or growing equipment. Click here for survey.

Not working towards a Food For Life Partnership award?
The Food For Life Partnership awards are a fantastic way to demonstrate to the wider world that your school is doing fantastic work to provide healthy school meals, great lunchtimes and food education that has a positive impact on both pupils and the wider community. Our programme provides a framework to support you through any changes you may need to make to achieve this. It’s designed to be flexible so every school can approach it in the way that works best for them. Once you enrol – which is free to do if you’re a school in England – you’ll find a wealth of resources, support and guidance to help you along the way as well as access to our central advice line. If your school is in an area with a commissioned programme, you may also be able to access further training and support from a member of our local teams. Find out more.

27 April 2015

Win a visit from an organic gardening expert

FFLP signature_FGSL news 2015Achieve a Food for Life Partnership award before Friday 22nd May 2015 and your school could be the lucky winner of a visit from one of Garden Organic’s expert gardeners, helping you to bring your garden to life! We will also throw in some equipment to keep your garden in tip top condition. Find out here.

Free support to improve school meals
School meal seminars are being held around England to support schools to improve school meals, including support for schools serving universal infant free school meals. The one-day regional seminars bring together keynote speakers and a number of suppliers under one roof to offer advice and information about the free support services available. All of the seminars are free to attend and various dates are available throughout the country. Find out more here.

Grow your way to your next FFLP award!
Spurred on by the better weather and with lots of advice from our partners Garden Organic and the Soil Association, we have been busy getting our gardens ready for the growing season and supporting all of our FFLP schools to do the same. So whether you are growing in small spaces or confused by composting, we can help you to get your gardens blooming this summer. Visit our website to get started.

Open Farm School Days – June 2015
Open Farm School Days is a nationwide initiative to get children out onto farms, discovering where their food comes from. Throughout June, farms will be opening their gates and hosting educational visits for children to learn about how their food is grown and meet the farmers who grow it.Open Farm School Days run alongside the annual Open Farm Sunday on 7th June 2015, and a number of farmers do both! It is free of charge to participate in Open Farm School Days and Open Farm Sunday. Farms in the South East.

27 April 2015

Dream set to come true for Berrymede Junior School in Ealing

Trees for Cities
Photo: Trees for Cities.

Berrymede Junior School in Ealing, west London has been announced as the first of 10 Edible Playground flagship schools to receive support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund, which has awarded £249,180 in funding.Edible Playgrounds, a programme led by Trees for Cities, will completely transform an area of their school grounds into a functional food-growing space.  Thanks to this support from players, the Edible Playground at Berrymede will have raised beds with herbs, salads, vegetables, fruit trees, an outdoor classroom, interpretation boards, composting facilities, irrigation and a greenhouse. The construction of the Edible Playground is due to take place in the summer followed by lots of planting!  Trees for Cities will provide a year of support to help Berrymede use their Edible Playground for year-round growing and teaching.

The pupils will enjoy hands-on cooking lessons from Chefs Adopt a School and have access to food education programmes outside the school gate via charity School Food Matter’s Membership for Schools. School Food Matters will also support Berrymede to achieve their first Food for Life Award.

Many pupils don’t have access to good quality outside areas in which to learn and play. Creating a safe, fun and exciting Edible Playground where they can take lessons in subjects such as food growing, science and maths will make a massive impact. The project will encourage children to be active outside, to learn outside the classroom, to think about where food comes from, and to make healthier eating choices.

Pupils at Berrymede are enthused by the project.  A Year 5 pupil from the school said: “I’m really excited about all the new growing places in the school and all the vegetables and fruits we will have.  But mostly I’m excited about eating them! We have already started planning and planting seeds”.

Sharon Johnson, Chief Executive of Trees for Cities said:  “With increasing concerns around food poverty and malnutrition, the next generation is in danger of losing touch with nature and not knowing why a healthy diet is important.  Edible Playgrounds show children how rewarding it is to spend time outdoors and get them excited about where their food comes from.  With 37 per cent of children between ages of 5 – 12 not eating enough every day and 20 per cent obese on leaving primary school, more and more schools are now educating their children on how food is grown and on making healthy eating choices”.
Pupils’ health and well-being is a key focus of the school. The Edible Playground complements recent improvements to the dining hall experience for pupils, and will become an integral part of this initiative- helping to drive healthy eating and healthy living.  Trees for Cities and Berrymede hope to inspire similar Edible Playgrounds projects in other schools in the area.

Lubna Khan, Head Teacher at Berrymede Junior School said: “We strive to provide a rich and stimulating learning environment, where our children thrive and subsequently leave, as well equipped young citizens ready for the next phase of their lives.  We include in our provision, knowledge and understanding about how well-being, good health and fitness underpin success.  A significant element of this is healthy eating and knowledge about food and agriculture, even if it is on a small scale!  This project has already initiated an excitement about planting, growing and a real appreciation of nature and its beauty”.


For more information
please contact: Samantha Lagan – 020 7820 4426 / 07825541130
Images available upon request

Notes to Editors
Edible Playground project, funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, is a partnership between Trees for Cities, School Food Matters and Chefs Adopt a School to create 10 flagship Edible Playgrounds in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Reading.

Edible Playgrounds (EP), a programme led by Trees for Cities, transform under-used school grounds into interactive and engaging food growing spaces.  EP provide children living in urban areas the opportunity to grow, harvest and eat fruit and vegetables, and to integrate the outdoor learning into the school curriculum.  EP design and construct the food growing spaces and support the school to utilize the outdoor space as a learning resource.  The gardens provide children key skills and knowledge of how to grow food and eat healthily, helping to address food poverty and prevent childhood obesity.  It also provides children the opportunity to be active outside, which benefits children’s health and education. An Edible Playground typically includes raised beds, a greenhouse, wormery, fruit trees and an irrigation system.

Trees for Cities (TfC) is an independent charity, which inspires people to plant and love trees worldwide. Set up in 1993, Trees for Cities’ aim is to create social cohesion and beautify our cities through tree planting, community-led design, education and training initiatives in urban areas that need it most.
We manage projects across the UK as well as internationally in cities such as Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Ica.  Our work supports urban tree planting initiatives particularly in deprived areas of cities.
Community-led design is an integral part of our landscaping projects. Involving local residents, schools and community groups helps ensure the sustainability of green spaces.

School Food Matters is a registered charity based in London that campaigns for fresh sustainable food in schools and for children to understand where their food comes from.  To achieve this SFM listens to schools, parents and children. Together they urge local authorities to improve school meals and to support food education through cooking, growing and links with local farms.

Chefs Adopt a School founded in 1990 by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Adopt a School, which includes Chefs Adopt a School and Hospitality in Schools, is a national charity which teaches children – in a holistic way – about food, cookery food provenance, food growing, healthy eating, nutrition, hygiene, table etiquette and the importance of eating together.  Professional Chefs deliver sessions in the classroom which range in content from the four tastes and the five senses, to advanced practical cookery. The charity reaches over 20,000 children every year and we work with primary schools, secondary schools, SEN schools, hospital schools, pupil referral units, sports centres and food festivals.  We believe that every child should be taught about the importance of food and the significance it has in our lives.

About People’s Postcode Lottery

  • People’s Postcode Lottery is a charity lottery. Players play with their postcodes to win cash prizes while raising money for charities and good causes across Great Britain and globally
  • People’s Postcode Lottery is an External Lottery Manager and manages multiple society lotteries promoted by different causes supporting a range of good causes. For details on which society lottery is running each week, visit
  • Postcode Lottery Limited is regulated by the Gambling Commission under certificate nr 829-N-102511-009 and 829-R-102513-008. Registered office: Titchfield House, 69/85 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4RR
  • People’s Postcode Lottery players support the following Trusts – Postcode African Trust, Postcode Animal Trust, Postcode Care Trust, Postcode Children Trust, Postcode Community Trust, Postcode Culture Trust, Postcode Dream Trust, Postcode Global Trust, Postcode Green Trust, Postcode Heroes Trust, Postcode Planet Trust, People’s Postcode Trust and Postcode Sport Trust. These Trusts are funded entirely by players and support a variety of good causes. For further information on each charity, visit:
  • 50p from every £2 ticket goes to good causes and players have raised over £66.4 Million for good causes across the Great Britain and globally
  • There are five draws a month with prizes every day and each ticket costs £2 – paid monthly in advance by direct debit. For further prize information, visit:
  • Maximum amount a single ticket can win is 10% of the draw revenue to a maximum of £400,000
  • Players can sign up by Direct Debit, credit card or PayPal online at, or by calling 0808 10-9-8-7-6-5.

14 April 2015

New London School’s Garden Competition launches for Grow Your Own Picnic 2015

The Food Growing Schools: London partnership, led

by Garden Organic, has launched Grow Your Own Picnic 2015 for the second year with a fantastic, new Grow Your Own School Garden Competition – and this time schools don’t need to be garden experts to win!

Judged by BBC TV Gardener, Chris Collins, the competition is aimed at London schools that aren’t yet growing food. First prize includes  £500 worth of gardening equipment, half a day with a garden expert, a corporate garden volunteer day at the school, and a professional case study about the school’s new garden journey. “London is such an inspiring place to be right now. More and more schools are picking up trowels, planting seeds and proving that you don’t need to be an expert gardener to grow your own food. Enthusiasm, ideas, community and a willingness to learn is all you need. And the summer is the perfect time to get started”, Chris Collins, BBC TV Gardener. Eligible schools can enter by setting up a school gardening task group, planning a new school growing space, identifying local school community support and making a gardening equipment wishlist. There will also be prizes awarded for second and third place.

Grow Your Own Picnic 2015 takes place during the Summer 2015 Term, and is a celebration of summer, sunshine and food growing in London schools. Schools can download a free 30-page schools activity pack, jammed full of Grow Your Own Picnic 2015 growing and cooking activities, learning opportunities, competitions, events and freebies. As the grand finale, schools can then share a delicious home-grown lunch with students, staff and the local community – on their very own Grow Your Own Picnic Day to end the Summer Term!

Grow Your Own Picnic 2015 celebrations also include the Schools Marketplace at City Hall on Thursday 9th July 2015, organised by Capital Growth for the Food Growing Schools: London partnership. Taking place for the second year running, enterprising London schools can plan for a bumper crop and sell their school-grown picnic produce to 600 staff based at City Hall, and to members of the public. In 2014 nine lucky London schools even sold produce to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny too! Capital Growth have also launched a Grow Your Own Picnic 2015 Photography Competition on behalf of the Food Growing Schools: London partnership. The winning photographs will be displayed at City Hall during the Schools Marketplace.

To help London schools get started, The Food Growing Schools: London partnership schools can register for the Get ready to Grow Your Own Picnic workshoptaking place on 22nd April 2015, at The Regent’s Park Allotment, NW1 4NR.  School food growing workshops also take place throughout the school year, run by members of the Food Growing Schools: London partnership.
For more information about all Grow Your Own Picnic 2015 activities visit:
Press Coverage: Kitchen Garden Magazine

8 April 2015

RHS to invest over 7 million in home grown horticultural talent to support British Horticulture

  • Survey in 2013 found more than 70% of horticultural businesses cannot fill skilled vacancies, nearly 20% are forced to recruit overseas and almost 70% say career entrants are inadequately prepared for work.*
  • As part of the on-going industry-wide campaign, Horticulture Matters, to close the green skills gap, the RHS will invest £3.2 million to increase its horticultural apprentice and training positions from 46 to 76 by 2025.
  • The RHS also commits to invest a further £4.1 million in horticultural salaries by 2025. The pay increases will be permanent, continuing beyond 2025, to better reflect the skills and knowledge of horticulturally trained employees.

The dwindling number of people in the UK with horticultural skills represents a major challenge to the horticultural industry in trying to meet the growing demands placed on it. As part of the industry-wide ‘Horticulture Matters’ campaign to raise the profile of careers in horticulture, the RHS has committed to invest £7.3 million by 2025 into horticultural talent to help support the future of British Horticulture.
RHS Director General, Sue Biggs, says: “We’re in the fourth year of the industry’s Horticulture Matters campaign, to raise the profile of careers in horticulture and close the critical green skills gap, which threatens the future of British Horticulture.

“We have just completed a horticultural salary review to ensure we recognise the specialist skills and knowledge that professional horticulturists and horticultural scientists need to do their jobs, at the same time as making sure we’re building horticultural salaries in a sustainable way, both for ourselves and for the wider industry.

“The key issue that we, as an industry, need to resolve is that people still aren’t aware of the breadth of exciting and fulfilling career opportunities that the wonderful world of horticulture has to offer. We also need to continue getting better at going out into secondary schools and reaching wider audiences to raise the profile of careers in horticulture and to highlight career progression opportunities.”
The gardening charity has committed to increase the number of its horticultural apprentice and training positions from 46 to 76 over the next ten years to encourage and support more people to enter the horticultural industry and to provide more opportunities for them within it. This will see the charity investing a further £3.2 million into these new horticultural roles to help kick-start people’s employment in horticulture, a career to be proud of.

The RHS conducted its review** into horticultural salaries across the industry to help the charity determine how it might advance its horticultural salaries at a sustainable rate. The RHS has now committed to ensuring that all professionally qualified RHS horticulturists and horticultural scientists are paid at the upper end of the horticultural industry pay scale, and has committed to invest an additional £4.1 million by 2025 to achieve this.

In conducting this review, the RHS focused on areas where there is a skills gap and where the industry struggles to recruit trained horticulturists. Curatorial and horticultural employees, including apprentices and trainees, and horticultural scientists will be the main beneficiaries of the increase with the pay progression ranges for each role increasing by between 5% and 10%, which is in addition to the Society’s standard 2% pay increase for 2015. All pay increases will be permanent.
Sue Biggs, continues: “This pay review reflects the value we place on our professional horticulturists and will take our pay levels from the average industry rate to the upper end of the horticultural pay scale. A Level 1 horticulturist’s starting salary will now be about £19,000 and a Garden Manager will be able to earn up to £40,000.

“As part of this initiative, we have also been able to increase our starting salaries for apprentices and trainees to £14,000 and £15,456 respectively, and will be creating 30 more of these positions too. We have introduced new pay progression scales into our Science division so that our horticultural scientists can follow a career path from entry level at £18,360 up to £45,900 and beyond for senior management positions.

“We’ll now be increasing our work to promote and raise the profile of the breadth of fantastic career opportunities in this industry to teachers, business, industry, career changers and the wider public to continue our efforts to help close the skills gap.”

Alan Titchmarsh, who has supported and helped drive Horticulture Matters from the start, says: “While it’s not just the salary that attracts a person to a job, nor makes them stay, this acknowledgement of the importance of adequately rewarding horticultural skills demonstrates that the RHS is committed to playing its part in recognising the often underestimated value of horticulturists. I look forward to more initiatives coming from the RHS and the wider industry to continue the work of Horticulture Matters and raise the profile of careers that are currently undervalued for the skills they require and for the immense positive difference they make.”

For full press release with notes to editors visit: RHS

2 April 2015

Capital Growth is recruiting

Capital Growth logo

Capital Growth is recruiting a part-time Project Officer to join the team at Sustain, based in London.

We are looking for an organised and creative person to join our successful project team, developing and running an exciting programme of activities that support new and existing food growing projects in London to provide skills, jobs, health and education – and of course great food – for Londoners.

You will work alongside others in the team and with our partners including Food Growing Schools London.  You need to have ideas, be able to development and implement them, know about food growing in London and be fantastic at working with other people (as well as the usual stuff which you can find in the job description).

The role is 3 days per week, with potential for more and the starting salary is £35, 160 (pro rata – which means you will earn £21,096).  You also get to be part of a fantastic organisation, working towards our goal of a better food and farming system.

Interested? Find out more on the Sustain website.

Find out about Capital Growth here.

2 April 2015

Trees for Cities joins London Schools Partnership

Hitherfield Primary Edible Playground. Trees for Cities & www.perfecteventservices_web.jpg
Hitherfield Primary school planting an apple cordon in their Edible Playground with Trees for Cities. Photo: Perfect Event Services.

We are pleased to announce that Trees for Cities have joined the Food Growing Schools: London partnership, bringing with them over 10 years’ experience and technical expertise in the delivery of Edible Playgrounds.

Set up as Trees for London in 1993, Trees for Cities’ aim is to create social cohesion and beautify our cities through tree planting, community-led design, education and training initiatives in urban areas that need it most, in the UK and overseas. Trees for Cities has been working in schools to plant fruit and nut trees since 2000. In response to increasing need and demand for food-growing from schools, Trees for Cities developed Edible Playgrounds, and launched with a flagship project at Rotherfield Primary School in Islington.

We are delighted to have been invited to join the Food Growing Schools: London project. Trees for Cities is a hands-on, delivery organisation and we hope to contribute some practical expertise through our Edible Playgrounds programme.” Kate Sheldon, Development Director. Trees for Cities

What are Edible Playgrounds?
Through the project, outdoor spaces in the grounds of inner city schools are transformed into an effective learning resource – teaching children to grow, harvest and cook healthy food. It is a multi-functional project, which addresses many core issues facing children today – obesity, food poverty, access to nature. Edible Playgrounds has immediate outcomes in changing children’s attitude towards healthy eating, gets children excited about eating fresh fruit and vegetables and encourages active outdoor learning. Over time, patterns of behaviour learned at a young age become embedded with long-term impact on health and attainment.

Edible Playgrounds has recently been awarded the Dream Fund 2015 to create 10 Flagship Edible Playgrounds over 2 years in London, Reading, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham in collaboration with School Food Matters and Chefs Adopt a School.

Edible Playgrounds in London schools
Trees for Cities plans to create 8-10 Edible Playgrounds in primary schools across London this year. They are seeking schools where the Edible Playground will have significant impact, for example with free school meal uptake of at least 30%, and those who are ambitious to be a hub for their borough by sharing their Edible Playground as a resource for training with other schools.  An Edible Playground project at your school comprises of initial design and consultation, construction and planting, and capacity building support for a year after creation including teacher training and access to resources. This support will ensure that the Edible Playground is embedded into your school curriculum and that teachers have the confidence to teach through gardening all year round. Interested London schools should to be willing to raise approximately half the cost of the build, which is match funded by Trees for Cities.
Edible Playgrounds in London Schools

Find out about Edible Playgrounds in London schools near you:

Hitherfield Primary School                      Rotherfield Primary School
Featherstone High School                      Havelock Primary School
Manorfield Primary School                     St Paul’s Primary School

Find out about all the Food Growing Schools: London partners.