Food Growing Schools London teams up with other organisations and councils in boroughs across London to get more schools engaged in growing.
October’s food growing forum held after school hours and hosted at St Andrew’s (Barnsbury) Primary School was a great success. 16 teachers from across Camden and Islington participated in the informative and inspiring session by sharing tips and resources from their food growing journey and initiatives.
Nick Ives, Engagement Officer for Food Growing Schools London (FGSL) writes:
“One of the best things about my role is working with fellow food growing enthusiasts – Marjon Willers, a Specialist Dietitian from the School Improvement Service of Islington is certainly one of those! We connected in the summer term and agreed to hold some food growing forums for teachers after school in the Autumn and Spring terms. Marjon agreed to find a host school and invite participants, my colleague Lisa Grant and I agreed to facilitate the session.
Our hosts Jacqui and King, from St Andrew’s (Barnsbury) Primary School generously welcomed 16 teachers and ourselves for the after school session which lasted an hour and a half.
To make best use of time we structured the session into four phases and encouraged constructive dialogue throughout:
a brief introduction from each participant and an expression of what they wanted to get out of the session
a demonstration from Lisa of the key features of the redesigned FGSL website
a tour from King and Jacqui of the school growing spaces
brief plenary to pull ideas together and agree some actions.
Some participants were new to growing, others more experienced. We had plenty of useful discussions, in which we shared relevant experiences and ideas, as well as sign posting to helpful resources and expertise. Some hoped to find out what to grow through the winter, others wanted to know how to make the best use of limited concrete growing spaces. As facilitators we made sure that every participant had a chance to get their questions addressed.
We encouraged everyone to keep in contact with us at Food Growing Schools: London – firstly to let us know what further support we can offer via our online survey and secondly to sign up for our regular FGSL Newsletter. We look forward to all meeting up again in the spring to share our growing stories some more.
This is what participants were kind enough to say about our forum:
‘Well organized, informal and practical. Plenty of ideas to take forward’
‘I have lots of cross curricular ideas now. More ideas for how to involve children in gardening’
‘Found out what to plant in Winter’
‘It’s great to see how another school is using its space and what they are growing’
Get in touch
Would schools in your borough benefit from a session of sharing and discussion like this one? Find out more, get involved and organise a session in your borough, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02476217747.
Summer holidays are coming to an end but we’re excited to go “back to school” for another year of building on the tremendous success of our Food Growing Schools: London project.
Garden Organic, working with the Food Growing Schools: London project partners, are geared up to deliver support, activities, training and resources to hundreds of participants across the capital as pupils return to the classroom and their school food growing projects.
From growing food in school gardens, to cooking it in school kitchens and selling it at local market events, the Food Growing Schools: London project is giving pupils in our country’s most populous urban centre a chance to live healthier, happier and more environmentally sustainable lifestyles.
There is still a way to go to meet the ambitious objective of getting every school in London growing food but there is certainly lots to celebrate from the first three years of the original project.
Evaluation* of the project’s growing impact in the city has highlighted Food Growing Schools: London’s contribution:
87% of schools are now engaged in food growing*
79% of schools report students are more aware of nature, healthy eating and sustainability
54% of schools report improved behaviour or attainment
25% of schools now link food growing to the curriculum
1,000 school staff and volunteers have received food growing training
Some key achievements include:
Six Schools Marketplaces at City Hall – and more in local boroughs
Two School Food Growing Conferences
Heritage Seed Library Seed Guardian Project – with Garden Organic
Schools Oca Growing Project – as part of ‘Grow Around the World’ activities
Growathon – engaging over 76,000 pupils in food growing
Delivered 40 school assemblies across London to help kick start food growing in schools
Partnership with the Food Flagship Boroughs of Croydon and Lambeth
Partnership with Borough Councils through the Good Food for London report
You can help
If you want to help give pupils in London the chance to grow food at school, here are a few simple actions you can take to get involved.
Wherever you may live in this great country, we appreciate the support in helping to build our online community and to amplify our voice. Many of our resources, tips and tricks are useful and designed to be used in any part of the country.
If you know someone based in London, why not mention the project to them? For completing our survey they will receive a term-time planner, seeds and also have the chance to win prizes like vouchers or other items.*
Be a volunteer and leader in your community
Many schools in London are looking for volunteers, items or funding to kick start or develop food growing projects. Offer your time, knowledge, skills or spare gardening tools to a school near you – find out how.
Support charities who stand up for what you believe in
The Food Growing Schools: London project is a partnership of charities. While the FGSL project doesn’t accept charitable donations for funding, the partners who deliver worthwhile projects all across the UK could use your support.
Garden Organic is calling for donations to the Fighting Fund to react quickly and directly when the rights of organic growers are threatened and this is especially important during these turbulent political times.
Want to know more about our partners?
Find out here about the incredible work the other Food Growing Schools: London partner charities are doing and how you can support their work.
*All statistics in this article are based on evaluation surveys with lead school teachers in Sept 2013 (n=504) and Jan 2017 (n=313). Evaluation was conducted by Prof Mat Jones, Emma Weikamp (both UWE Bristol) and Hannah Pitt (Cardiff University) Public Health and Wellbeing Research Group, UWE, Frenchay Campus, Bristol, BS16 1QY
*Of the schools that participated in the FGSL survey, the percentage of schools engaged in food growing has risen from 72% to 87% since 2013.
*Free term time planner, seeds, vouchers and prizes are available while stocks last and some items may not be available to everyone.
Food Growing Schools: London is a partnership initiative led by Garden Organic. Garden Organic, the working name of the Henry Doubleday Research Association, is a registered charity in England and Wales (no. 298104) and Scotland (SC046767).
Fancy a brilliant day of workshops on topics around outdoor learning, school gardening and edible education?
Rhyl Primary School in Camden is hosting their fourth annual Outdoor Learning Conference on Wednesday April 26th, 9:30-3pm. Workshops include Forest School, inspiring maths and writing outdoors, garden design, embedding in school curriculum and guest speakers from the trailblazing Natural Connections Project.
Price is only £60, which includes three workshops and lunch / pizza from our wood fired oven. The school band will perform during lunch. Any profits from the event to the Rhyl Kitchen Classroom project.
Capital Growth spaces can claim a 10% early bird discount if they book before March 1st. Please quote your Capital Growth space number.
Our friends and FGSL partners, Trees for Cities want to find out what would help schools plant trees at school or even somewhere near school like a local park. And they need your help!
London schools. Can you help?
Please take 5 minutes to complete their short survey and tell them what the challenges are and how they can help. They are particularly interested to hear from schools who may never have ordered or planted free trees that are offered to schools annually.
A big thank you
To say thank you for giving your input, they are offering you the chance to win a “Tree-mendous” School Assembly! All schools completing the survey will be entered into a prize draw to win an assembly from Trees for Cities on the importance and wonder of trees.
‘Trees for Schools’ is funded by Defra and delivered in partnership with the Woodland Trust and Trees for Cities to help schools across London plant trees in or near their school.
My name is Paul. I’m a School and Community Engagement Officer for the Food Growing Schools: London partnership. There are three of us – Paul, Lisa and Julie* – working across the 33 boroughs of London.
What do Engagement Officers do?
Being a FGSL Engagement Officer can be quite a diverse role. We do a lot of work ‘sign-posting’ or pointing schools in the right direction when they are starting out on their food growing journey. It’s always a joy to hear the enthusiasm from a member of school staff or a parent wanting our help to develop a new school garden. Our advice ranges from sharing information and resources about how to set up your garden and the best plants to grow, to promoting school growing activities (e.g. Spring into Growing 2017), and wider support available to schools (e.g. FGSL partners and local organisations). We also love to visit schools and meet staff, volunteers and pupils face to face. We encourage schools to get started on their food growing journey by completing our FGSL survey to tell us what support they need.
Who works in your London borough?
I feel quite lucky to have 11 boroughs that are all very enthusiastic and engaged in promoting food growing in their schools. They run from the northern outer boroughs of Harrow, Barnet and Enfield through Camden and Islington, and down into the southern ‘Flagship’ boroughs of Lambeth and Croydon where I have tended to spend quite a lot of my time supporting their work. Below is a list of where our FGSL Engagement Officers work. Email us* to find out how we can support you:
FGSL are working with Borough Councils to help schools grow
According to the Good Food for London 2016 report 30 out of 33 London boroughs are doing more to improve the food available to their residents, workers and school pupils compared to 2015. We are also proud to be working directly with borough councils to help schools grow food through our Food Growing Schools: London programme.
Swapping seeds, plants and knowledge at Borough Forums
One of my favourite activities is running a ‘Forum’ or networking event within a borough. These are always held at a local school who are growing food and happy to show off what they are doing to others. The Forums are an opportunity for anyone who is running or wanting to set up a school food growing project to gain some informal training, share what they are doing with others and gain some inspiration from the host school. We try to run a seasonal food growing activity and encourage those who turn up to bring spare seeds, plants and even an educational resource which they can share or swap with others. It a fun and informative meeting giving the chance for everyone to network and go away with a little more confidence and enthusiasm to help them on their food growing adventures.
Would you like support to get growing, or to host a Borough Forum in your school?
If you would like to host a Borough Forum in your school, or would like support for your school to get growing please get in touch. See the blue poster above for which Engagement Officer works in your borough:
Paul Sadler – email@example.com
Lisa Grant – firstname.lastname@example.org
*Please note: Julie Henley-Wilkinson is finishing with FGSL in December 2016. Please contact FGSL Project Manager, Kate Groves, if your school is based in one of her boroughs and you would like support: email@example.com
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.
For more information please contact: Samantha Lagan – 020 7820 4426/07825541130 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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
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: