Soil is the answer

Ridan Compostingby Dan Welburn, Ridan Composting

Growing food to eat yourself gets us as close to nature as it is possible to be. Consuming something we have planted and nurtured, the rewards are amazing and the taste unbeatable, all you need for this is good soil, that’s where it all starts.

Good soil is full of nutrients and life, it feeds not only plants but insects, microbes, worms and small animals too. The way to make good soil is by adding compost, this enriches the soil making it nutritious and nourishing.

The best compost is home-made and free, school food waste, all of it, not just vegetables and fruit, but also cooked food, meat, bread, pasta, eggs and cheese can all be converted into great compost at school by using a simple machine, the ‘Ridan’.

In as little as 12 weeks all of that food waste can be turned into compost, then spread on the garden where it will feed your next crop of delicious vegetables and fruit. Turning all of the food waste into compost to grow more food closes the loop, it’s perfectly sustainable and it’s all down to soil.

Ridan food waste composting systems are designed to stand outside, they don’t use any power and they are a simple interactive way to recycle all school food waste on site. Already used by hundreds of schools they are a highly visible, educational demonstration of sustainability and recycling.

For full details please see www.Ridan.co.uk or call 01598 751043. Ridan are currently offering a 10% discount to all ‘Food Growing Schools’.


Spring is the perfect time to start a school garden

Join Food Growing Schools: London for Spring into Growing, and learn the secrets to planning and constructing your school garden, and developing a productive growing space – including  how composting can have huge benefits to helping you grow food. Free resources, tips and ideas here: Spring into Growing – Plan it. Build it. Grow it!

Discover more: FGSL competitions and offers

Grandparent Gardening Week!

Grandparent Gardening Week. Soil Association Food for Life. shutterstock_180987194It’s that time of year again. Every Spring FGSL project partners Soil Association Food for Life (FFL) encourage schools around the UK to get growing – with the support of grandparents! Grandparent Gardening Week takes place from 27-31 March 2017.

For beginners, food growing in school can seem a little daunting, but with the right support from the local community it can be surprisingly fun, and a great opportunity for all generations to learn together using the garden. Grandparents often come with bags of gardening enthusiasm, knowledge, experience and time to share with the younger generations. That’s why they’re perfect for helping in schools too.

Hosting a gardening activity
Ask  a team of students to lead the Grandparent Gardening Week activities, involving your school cook and DT lead. Ask what crops they would like to see grown, think about where they might plant them or how your school cook could use them in their recipes, linking the crops with the kitchen and classroom learning. Share ideas and plans across the school to involve everyone in the fun! The Food for Life Awards Package provides plenty of expert growing resources, including Garden Organic growing cards. For a template poster, media invite and press release visit: Grandparent Gardening Week.

Spring into Growing – Plan it. Build it. Grow it!
You can also dip into FGSL Spring into Growing 2017 resources to help you get growing together on Grandparent Gardening Day. For more ideas on how to work with your local community visit FGSL Support.

Get your grandparents involved – happy growing together!

Grandparent Gardening Week

Lisa’s tips: how to start growing this Spring term

Lisa Grant, Engagement Officer, at the Food Growing Schools: London conference at Argyle Primary, Camden.
Lisa Grant, Engagement Officer, at the Food Growing Schools: London conference at Argyle Primary, Camden.

By Lisa Grant, FGSL Engagement Officer

Spring into Growing – help to get growing this term at your school

At Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) we encourage and inspire schools to start growing their own food, no matter how big or how small a space you have. As Engagement Officers, my colleague Paul and I can support you in getting started. We can give you advice on the phone, run a workshop at your school, or share resources.

A great way to get started this term is to join us for  Spring into Growing 2017 – Plan it. Build it. Grow it! With our expert guidance, learn the secrets to planning and constructing your own school garden, work with recycled materials and nature in order to develop a productive growing space; all with the help of your local community.

Which Engagement Officer works where in London?

Lisa Grant – I cover these boroughs – Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Greenwich, Haringey, Havering, Lewisham, Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets.

Paul Sadler covers these boroughs – Barnet, Camden, City of London, Croydon, Enfield, Harrow, Hillingdon, Islington, Lambeth, Southwark, Sutton, Waltham Forest and Westminster.

Find out what support FGSL can offer: Our Support.

An example school growing food – Smithy Street Primary School in Tower Hamlets

I met with the Early Years and Foundation Stage Phase Leader, Christine Hopes, at Smithy Street Primary School in Tower Hamlets towards the end of 2016.  She had the intention of starting to grow with her team of teachers and their students, in a small dedicated space outside in the playground.  Christine and I spoke about what she wanted me to cover in a bespoke workshop, and we looked at their growing space to see what was possible.  Here is some advice on how to get started:

Top tips for getting started

1.    Where – Decide on an outdoor area where you would like to start growing food.  Does it get lots of sunlight?

2.    Who – Decide on who is going to take a lead in this.  Is it a gardening club at lunchtime or after school?  Is it a phase group?  It is a parent volunteer or a member of school staff?

3.    What – Do some research.  Is there a local farm or a local community organisation that could support you in starting to grow your own food?  Have you filled out our online FGSL survey so we can help you get started?

4.    How – Get in touch with either Paul or myself after checking which boroughs we cover.  We can have a conversation by email or by phone in the first instance to get going with this great adventure in growing food.

Discover more FGSL resources to help your school get growing.

During the workshop, with another local school called Redlands Primary School, I worked with the staff to look at what plants were possible to grow at this time of year, and what small steps could be taken to start growing successfully in a manageable way.  The two schools worked together to plan how they were going to start growing and I facilitated discussions about this.

Get growing in your school this Spring

If you wish to start growing and would like support from our team, please complete our online survey FGSL survey to tell us what support you need. Then, check out our online resources this term: Spring into Growing 2017 – Sow it. Grow it. Build it!

This includes information on:
•    How to: Plan your school garden
•    How to: Construct your garden
•    How to: Work with nature in your garden
•    How to: Get help from your local community
•    Competitions and giveaways

We hope to hear from you!

New Year. New Resolutions!

It’s all getting a bit festive. Lights, Christmas trees, the smell of mince pies! But before we know it frosty mornings will soon turn to sunny, spring days. So, start 2017 with a New Year resolution! A school garden fit for growing healthy food, learning skills and sharing knowledge, whatever the size or space.

FGSL Spring into Growing 2017Spring into Growing 2017 – Plan it. Build it. Grow it!

Join Food Growing Schools: London and schools all across London for Spring into Growing 2017, from January to March 2017. With our expert guidance, learn the secrets to planning and constructing your school garden, working with recycled materials and nature, and developing a productive growing space, with the help of your local community.

A healthy start to the new year

But why grow? London schools are starting to see the incredible benefits of growing food in schools – benefits to health, education, the community, the environment and even the local economy. It’s a no brainer! Discover what they are here: Why Grow? 

Free food growing resources for schools

We’ve gathered together some really useful school activity sheets and growing guides to help your school, under the following themes:

Have a look at our Spring into Growing 2017 resources to get stuck in.

Gardening as a tool for teaching curriculum subjects

Food growing is also a great tool for learning, across a wide range of curriculum subjects – including Design, Engineering and Technology, Maths, Science and so much more. So growing food provides new ideas, to add inspiration to teaching and learning in 2017. Check out our Resources for ideas, tips, growing tools and activity sheets.

School food growing doesn’t have to cost the earth.

School gardens don’t have to be expensive. They can be constructed using reclaimed and recycled materials. With the help of parents, teachers and the local community it’s great fun collecting together all the materials, tools and knowledge you need to get started, together. Here are some ideas for working with your local community.

Planning your school activities for 2017?

Join in with Spring into Growing 2017 – Plan it. Build it. Grow it!