London schools get enterprising with School Food Matters

School Food Matters Market Day in Stoke Newington, with with Hoxton Garden Primary.
School Food Matters Market Day in Stoke Newington, with Hoxton Garden Primary.

School Food Matters are one of six fantastic Food Growing Schools: London partners founded in 2007 by parent Stephanie Wood. Over the past 10 years they have made their name as experts in school food enterprise projects, working with thousands of pupils in schools across London.

Enterprising school food projects

In March and April 2017, Know your Onions, School Food Matters’ new secondary school project progresses with 15 gardening sessions delivered by our partners, Garden Organic. These sessions will inspire students to get involved in food growing, think about where their food comes from and learn useful skills.  In April, these schools visit a local market garden where they can see professional food growing at scale, within the boundaries of London. These visits help the students to contextualise their food growing in the wider environment and think about the effects of global food production on the environment. Know your Onions is kindly supported for 3 years by the City of London Corporation’s charity, City Bridge Trust. Read more about the progress of the programme, including students learning to cook their produce, and sell it at their local street market: Know Your Onions.

The Schools to Market programme, led by School Food Matters in partnership with Whole Kids Foundation, is now entering its fifth year and kicks off in March 2017 with an assembly at 20 participating schools. This year five Whole Foods Market stores are taking part: Richmond, Fulham Broadway, High Street Kensington, Cheltenham and Giffnock. The assembly not only launches the programme but also looks at the purpose of it; to take children on a journey from seed to supermarket, to teach them about fresh, healthy food and to improve their nutrition and wellbeing. This way the whole school can benefit from the assembly and not just those children chosen to participate in Schools to Market. Keep up to date with what’s happening when at: Schools to Market.

Other enterprising School Food Matters projects include: Young Marketeers at Borough Market and Fresh Enterprise: School Food Matters Enterprise Projects

For ideas on how to start an enterprise food project in your school visit the Food Growing Schools: London website: Grow Your Own Business

Know Your Onions

Know Your Onions. Photo: School Food Matters
Know Your Onions. Photo: School Food Matters

Linking in beautifully with FGSL’s Autumn Term Grow Your Own Business activities, November sees the launch of a brand new enterprise project for secondary school students, Know Your Onions.

Led by our fantastic FGSL partner, School Food Matters, the programme will support schools develop food growing spaces and, with the help of a professional chef, give them top tips on how to cook what they harvest.

Students will also get the chance to see food growing at scale with a visit to a Market Garden in London in April to develop ideas on how to make their school gardens more productive and planet friendly.

At the end of the school year, students will harvest and sell their produce at their local street markets to raise money for more food education activities. School Food Matters will be working with three schools in each of the Boroughs of Camden, Croydon, Sutton, Waltham Forest and Enfield, and a total of 15 schools.

To find out more visit: Know Your Onions


Sow it. Grow it. Sell it!

Young Marketeers Winter Sale – February 2017
School Food Matters have many years of experience running school food enterprise projects. Among them are their fantastic Young Marketeers (with Borough Market) and Schools to Market (with Wholefoods stores) projects. Next up, their Young Marketeers Winter Sale at Borough Market in February 2017, fr a second year running. Four schools in Southwark will be creating soup from surplus veg and bake bread with the team at Bread Ahead to sell to the public alongside market traders with all money made going to Fareshare.

Inspired to start your own school food enterprise project?….

Grow Your Own Business 2016 – this Autumn Term with FGSL
From strawberry jam to tomato ketchup, and the great British apple to winter salad bags. With our expert guidance, learn the secrets to starting your own school food growing business, raising money for your school, developing employment skills and selling healthy, home-grown food in your local community. Join in with Grow Your Own Business by downloading our free schools activity pack.

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Inspiring story: Chris Collins – a successful gardening career

Chris Collins, New Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic, lead Food Growing Schools: London partner.
Chris Collins, new Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic, lead Food Growing Schools: London partner.

Congratulations to former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins, and keen supporter of Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL), who has become the new Head of Organic Horticulture for Garden Organic, FGSL’s lead partner.  Garden Organic asked Chris to tell us how he became a successful gardener.

A CV most gardeners can only dream of
Chris has a CV most gardeners can only dream of, taking in two Royal Botanic Gardens and the green space at ‘The Queen’s church’ Westminster Abbey. With a long TV history, Chris has popped up on everything from Blue Peter – where he ran the iconic London garden for nine years and then created a new one at the BBC’s MediaCityUK studio in Salford – to Gardeners’ World, This Morning, Children in Need, Garden Invaders and Turf Wars.

A familiar face to many schools gardeners
Chris is a familiar face to many schools, supporting a wide range of school food growing projects in London and across the UK – and taking selfies wherever he goes! Chris has supported many FGSL projects including our FGSL Schools Marketplace at City Hall, Growathon and numerous schools competitions, the School Food Matters Young Marketeers project at Borough Market and Edible Playground projects as a patron with Trees for Cities – to name but a few. FGSL look forward to working with Chris even more closely to achieve our dream to get every school in London growing food.

Inspiration for young gardeners
Chris trained at the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh before working on diverse projects all over the globe, including Africa’s oldest botanical gardens in Cameroon and a stint in Japan teaching British gardening techniques. Chris returned to the UK in 1998 and his career blossomed further at Kew and Westminster Abbey. He is also an RHS Chelsea Flower Show medal-winner!

Garden Organic asked Chris some questions about his career and this is what he said:

How did your career begin? “I come from quite a rough background and when I left school I got an apprenticeship on the Brighton Parks. I planted an elm tree in my first week and I knew straightaway that this was what I wanted to do with my career. That tree’s now 45 feet tall. Gardening has given me a fantastic life and I owe it so much. I don’t know whether it’s fair to say gardening saved my life, as you never know what path you might have taken, but it certainly lit things up for me, and still does.”

What was it like running the nation’s most watched garden? “There were so many hilarious moments looking after the Blue Peter garden. I’ve worked with Scooby Doo and Buddhist monks. I’ve been eaten by a giant plant. For a feature on composting, we made little Daleks with Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston. There was always something fun going on and I had the chance to direct what we were doing. The greatest thing was that it was really successful at reaching children. My endgame? Is always to spread the message about horticulture.”

What’s the best way to inspire the next generation to grow their own? “I’m a big fan of gardening being taught in schools. The key thing is to have someone come in once a week to drive the project and share their enthusiasm. Get some raised beds, sow some fruit and veg, nurture them week by week, let them see the growing cycle. This is how you teach kids properly about growing.”

Top tips for anyone getting started? “My advice is to start small, at home, even if you only have a balcony or a few pots on a patio. Make it a family project to see what you can grow, whether it’s crops or flowers or a combination. Going out and about to I’m a big fan of gardening being taught in schools. The key thing is to have someone come in once a week to drive the project and share their enthusiasm. Get some raised beds, sow some fruit and veg, nurture them visit places for inspiration makes it more fun.”

Congratulations to Chris on his new role as Head Gardener with Garden Organic. FGSL look forward to working with him even more closely to achieve our dream to get every school in London growing food!

Read more about Chris Collins on the Garden Organic website.

Find out more about careers in horticulture – and support young people to grow their futures.

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Haringey school gets a boost to support Healthy Eating

Stamford Hill Primary School, Haringey. (From left to right)  Bledina y6, David y6, Malikay6, Harvin y6, Renzo y6, Alise y6 and Haoyi y5 Photo: Trees for Cities
Stamford Hill Primary School, Haringey. (From left to right) Bledina, David, Malika, Harvin, Renzo, Alise and Haoyi, year 5 and 6. Photo: Trees for Cities

Stamford Hill Primary School, which is located in Tottenham, North London, will be transforming areas of their playground into an Edible Playground, thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Trees for Cities will transform areas of the school playground into an edible playground, which will be designed specifically for the school, including raised beds for growing salads, root vegetables, soft fruits and herbs, fruit trees and a composting area.   Pupils will enjoy planting and harvesting workshops throughout the year, and teachers will receive support to teach outdoors through gardening.

The school has recently been awarded the Gold Healthy Schools status and as part of their ongoing work on Healthy Eating is about to embark on this new teaching and learning journey over the next few years.

Kathy O Sullivan, Head Teacher at Stamford Hill Primary said: “As part of our ongoing work on Healthy Eating, we have installed a cooking kitchen and employed our own cook.  A cooking room is also being installed so we can develop the cooking curriculum across the school.  We are keen to extend our work on healthy schools and growing our own food felt like the next logical step”.

The programme is a partnership between Trees for Cities, School Food Matters and Chefs Adopt a School to create 10 flagship Edible Playgrounds in London, Manchester, Leeds, Reading and Liverpool.  As part of the project, the pupils will also enjoy hands-on cooking lessons from Chefs Adopt a School and access to food education programmes outside the school gate via charity School Food Matter’s Membership for Schools.

David Elliott, Chief Executive at Trees for Cities said: “We are delighted to announce our seventh Dream Fund Edible Playground at Stamford Hill Primary School in Haringey, thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.  Our Edible Playground programme addresses several key areas of concern around children’s health. They teach pupils where food comes from, that healthy food can be the easy choice, in and out of school and encourage physical activity“

Tesco bags of help have shortlisted this school for 8-12k of additional funding  and this project will also go forward to a public vote in Tesco stores with their customers deciding the outcome. The public will be able to vote for their favourite project in their local Tesco stores from 26th September 2016 to 9th October 2016.

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 30 Edible Playgrounds in the UK with a further 40 to be rolled out over the next three years.

If you or your business want to help raise the remainder of the funds needed for this project please visit http://www.edibleplaygrounds.org/ where you can make a donation or get in touch with the team on 020 7820 4413.

Ends

For more information please contact: Samantha Lagan – 020 7820 4426/07825541130
samantha@treesforcities.org
Images available upon request

Notes to Editors

Trees for Cities is an independent charity making our cities greener both in the UK and internationally.  They also plant ‘Edible Playgrounds‘ in primary schools in deprived urban areas of the UK to help children learn about growing and eating healthy food.  All of this is done with the help of thousands of volunteers.

The trees they plant transform spaces where people live, work and play, particularly in areas where the social and environmental impact on local people is greatest: in London this might mean planting trees to clean the air, focusing on areas affected by NO2 Pollution, whilst internationally they plant fruiting trees for food and sustainable livelihoods.
Since 1993, Trees for Cities has engaged over 70,000 people to plant over 600,000 urban trees in parks, streets, schools and housing estates worldwide, revitalising these areas and improving the lives of the people that live in them.

Edible Playgrounds is a programme led by Trees for Cities who have been working in schools to plant fruit and nut trees for over 10 years.  “Edible Playgrounds” transform areas in school grounds into vibrant outdoor spaces that excite and teach children about growing and eating healthy food.

By instilling healthy eating habits at an early age, they help tackle obesity, food poverty and lack of access to nature head on, and provide a platform for fun and engaging lessons that support the school curriculum.  An Edible Playground typically includes raised beds, a greenhouse, wormery, fruit trees and an irrigation system.

www.treesforcities.org

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.  http://www.schoolfoodmatters.org/

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.  http://www.chefsadoptaschool.org.uk/

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
• A minimum of 30% goes directly to charities and players have raised £135.8 Million for good causes across the country
• £10 for 10 draws paid monthly in advance with prizes every day. For further prize information visit: www.postcodelottery.co.uk/prizes
• 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 www.postcodelottery.co.uk, or by calling 0808 10-9-8-7-6-5
• Postcode Lottery Limited is regulated by the Gambling Commission under certificate nr 000-000829-N-102511-011 and 000-000829-R-102513-010. Registered office: Titchfield House, 69/85 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4RR
• People’s Postcode Lottery manages multiple society lotteries promoted by different charities. For details on which society lottery is running each week, visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk/society
• This prize was part of the draw promoted by Royal Voluntary Service or WWF

New shoots: over 50,000 students happily growing food across London

We are delighted to announce that the target for our Growathon Challenge has been met!

Trafalgar Infant_1_Marketplace 2016_City Hall
Photo: Maria C. Bada/Garden Organic

Launched in October 2015, the Growathon was the biggest school food growing challenge of the year, with a target of getting 50,000 pupils involved by the end of the school summer term. The target has been exceeded with 54,168 school children reportedly involved in food growing activities, such as eco gardening clubs, seed saving projects and markets to sell their homegrown produce and products, such as jams and chutneys.

Schools have been able to log their activities on the Growathon website, where a Carrot Totaliser showed the numbers grow over the last 10 months.

Colette Bond, Head of Education at Garden Organic, said:

The Food Growing Schools: London partnership has been encouraging schools to grow food since 2013 and we’re delighted to report that over 50,000 pupils are already enjoying the benefits. From improved health and wellbeing and developing an understanding of where our food comes from to developing skills and confidence, the Growathon campaign highlights all the great things that come from food growing in schools. Congratulations to all the London children that took part!”

Borough Market_Young Marketeers
Photo: School Food Matters

The FGSL partnership brings together the very best of London’s food growing expertise, information and support to inspire and equip every school in London to grow their own food.

The partnership is led by Garden Organic and includes Capital Growth, the Soil Association’s Food For Life Partnership, the Royal Horticultural Society, School Food Matters and Trees for Cities. The project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and has also been supported by the Mayor of London.

Former TV Blue Peter gardener, Chris Collins, said:

It’s brilliant to see the number of kids involved in food growing climbing the way it is. I’m a big supporter of the Growathon campaign and I’m thrilled to see that the target has been smashed by the end of the school year!”

FGSL are planning an event to celebrate the success of the Growathon and the project in its final year at City Hall in October 2016. This will coincide with their second annual Schools Marketplace event, the first of which was attended by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and took place in July.

London schools can access free support, tips and materials by completing the Food Growing Schools: London survey. Every school that completes the survey will be entered into a draw to win some fantastic prizes, including a meal for two worth £50 at Wahaca.

 

Summer School Marketplace events across London

Students across London have been working hard tending to their gardens and allotments all term, and the crops have been bountiful.  Marketplace events held this month, have seen them to come together to sell the produce from their plots and the yummy treats they have made, and what a success they have been.

Kicking off in Croydon on 5th July was the borough’s first ever schools food market.  Children from 16 local schools sold their wares to Croydon residents who were delighted to grab a healthy bargain whilst helping the students to develop their business and communication skills.

CCollins_ Sharon Hodgson_Young Marketters_Borough Market 2016
MP for School Food Sharon Hodgson and Chris Collins at Young Marketters, Borough Market. Photo: Kate Groves/ Garden Organic

On 7th July Borough Market was the venue for the School Food Matters’ Young Marketeers to pitch their stalls.  Students sold a range of produce including peas, spinach, potatoes, beetroot and herbs, and their stalls proved to be as busy as the rest of the bustling market.

Amongst the crowds were the MP for School Food Sharon Hodgson, Mayor of Southwark Kath Whittam and the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark.  All proceeds from the event were donated to FareShare to provide meals for vulnerable families.

On 12th July it was the turn of Tower Hamlets to host a magnificent marketplace with students from a number of local schools offering almost everything you could think of!

Last but certainly not least some savvy students made their sales at the City Hall Schools Marketplace on Thursday 14th July.  Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and Rosie Boycott, The Mayor of London’s Food Advisor and Chair of the London Food Board, visited the stalls hosted by six London schools and was difficult to choose from the huge array of edible treats grown and made by the students.

There are many more school marketplace events happening across London throughout the year. And if you haven’t yet started on your school food growing journey, we can give you lots of free advice and support to help you on your way.

To get involved, sign up to receive our newsletter and be the first to find out where and when the next events are.

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Young Marketeers at Borough Market

June sees School Food Matters Young Marketeers schools receiving visits from the team at Food Growing Schools London. Skilled horticulturists will be on hand to deal with any veg related problems to ensure a bountiful crop to sell at Borough Market.

In April and May, the students had two training days at Borough market on seed sowing and market trading followed by a visit to the Fareshare depot.

The project culminates in two sales days, with half the schools selling their produce on the summer sale on July 7 and the other half at the harvest sale in October. 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.

Schools to Market 2016 has kicked off for fourth year of food education fun!

This year Schools to Market is all about chutneys and sauces.

Once again, 36 schools from across the UK will embark on a journey from seed to supermarket with all nine Whole Foods Market UK stores taking part. Each store is working with one local secondary school and three primaries, growing and cooking the ingredients for a range of chutneys, relishes and sauces that will be sold Whole Foods Market in July.

We’re all set for another year of exciting activities including a master class from chef Ruth Quinlan, a visit to pick your own farms in Kent and Surrey, and store tours and marketing workshops at Whole Foods stores. And there’s going to be a celebrity chef visit from Tom Aikens.

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.


 

Trees for Cities – 2016/17 Dream Fund Edible Playground programme

25 February 2016

Trees for Cities are seeking one final London school for their 2016/17 Dream Fund Edible Playground programme supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

This programme match funds (to 50%) the cost of creating an Edible Playground at school, an academic year of gardening support training, three chef visits from Chefs Adopt a School and Food for Life Award support from School Food Matters.

If your school is embarking on vegetable growing please contact isla@treesforcities.org to discuss this opportunity.