” The spirit of the Big Dig is what community gardening is all about “
Join Capital Growth and gardens across the capital to kick off the growing season on this annual volunteer open day. Every spring, hundreds of volunteers pull on their wellies and head outside to help community gardens get ready to grow.
In 2016, in London over 40 gardens took part, welcoming over 750 volunteers to help shovel compost, build trellises, plant seedlings and enjoy a hard day’s work in the company of friends and neighbours.
The Big Dig across the UK
The Big Dig started as an event run by Capital Growth in 2012 to engage volunteers in their local food-growing space. It was initially funded as a nationwide project, managed by Sustain, recruiting 7,500 new volunteers to take part in community gardening.
The network continues to work with cities in the UK. Community gardens in London, Manchester and Birmingham can register for their local Big Dig 2017 via their city’s Big Dig Map.
The Real Bread Campaign, run by our friends at Sustain, have teamed up with Grow Your Own Playground to guide schoolchildren across the capital on a year-long journey from seed to sandwich.
The hands-on project sees school food growing expert Cassie Liversidge visit each school to share with classes of up to 60 pupils the fact that Real Bread starts life in a field, not a factory.
During the exciting educational experience, pupils roll up their sleeves to plant wheat in winter or spring; nurture it until harvest time; then gather, thresh, winnow and mill the grain into flour. The culmination is a baking day, when each child makes a loaf to take home to share with their family.
The full programme has four stages:
Build: Construction of a solid wood planter that will last for years to come.
Sow: Children prepare the seed bed and plant the wheat seeds, learning how to care for it.
Grow and Harvest: Grow Your Own Playground makes two visits to check how the wheat is growing and harvest the crop in the late summer or early autumn.
Bake: A fun and informative Real Bread making day, when children get to mill their wheat and bake a loaf to take home.
Maria Lewington, headteacher at John Scurr Primary School said: “We so look forward to our Lessons in Loaf. The baking day is full of meaningful and collaborative learning. Every part of the curriculum is alive throughout the day and every child receives an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
The project partners, along with the Worshipful Company of Bakers, work to find an expert baker local to the school to join in with the baking day, allowing children to learn about the profession, and the school to build community business links.
The Real Bread Campaign would be keen to hear from anyone who can help fund their work on the project, or sponsor schools to participate.
London school teachers, governors and gardeners can express their interest in the project at:
Lessons in Loaf: London is a collaboration between the Real Bread Campaign (which launched Lessons in Loaf nationally in 2010 and Bake Your Lawn a year later) and Cassie Liversidge, who has been helping London schools to grow wheat to bake into bread since 2010 as part of Grow Your Own Playground. Cassie’s work on the project is sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Bakers.
The Real Bread Campaign is part of the food and farming charity Sustain, which also runs London Food Link and its Capital Growth network of community food growing spaces.
Lessons in Loaf is a trademark of Sustain.
Lessons In Loaf: London offers the choice of three packages, each for up to 60 pupils, tailored to a school’s specific needs:
Package 1: The full Build, Sow, Grow and harvest, and Bake programme outlined above. Cost: £2,254.99
Package 2: The Sow, Grow and Harvest, and Bake programme outlined above. (Suitable if the wheat can be planted into an existing bed with new compost added no planter building is required) Cost £2,040.00
Taster: If a school registers too late to plant the wheat, they can try the Bake day to whet their appetite and do the whole package the following academic year. Cost £1,020.00
Consultation: If there is any doubt that this project will be possible at a particular school, Grow Your Own Playground can offer a consultation visit. A professional gardener will visit your school, talk through the whole project and discuss the best location within the school grounds for the wheat to grow. Cost: £150.00
Today sees the launch of the Good Food For London 2016 report, produced by our friends at Sustain through their London Food Link project. The report takes an intriguing look at various aspects of ‘good food’, from community food growing and school food standards, to animal welfare, sustainable fish, fair pay and fair trade – and at the boroughs that are making strides to improve food culture in London. Good Food For London is supported by the GLA and partner organisations, including Food Growing Schools: London.
London boroughs are ranked in a league table according to their action on 11 ‘good food’ measures. Scores range from 95 to 15 per cent. The fantastic news is that 30 out of 33 London boroughs are doing more to improve the food available to their residents, workers and school pupils compared to 2015. For a broad look at ‘good food’ in London’s boroughs you can read the full Good Food for London 2016 report here.
Good food in London’s schools
So what does the Good Food For London 2016 report say about progress in schools? There are four key measures related to schools listed below:
Community Food Growing (Green map and list above)
The GFFL 2016 report for this measure shows that there is 1) increasing local authority commitment to food growing in communities, 2) inclusion of food growing in the Local Plan for more boroughs, and 3) borough support for school food growing through our Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) programme. To achieve this measure at least 75% of local schools should be registered with FGSL by completing our short FGSL survey.
FGSL’s work with councils, council officers and communications representatives is really starting to make a difference. According to our own FGSL interim report launched at City Hall in October 2016, now 25 out of 33 boroughs are promoting food growing in schools compared to 15 in 2015. Almost 1,400 schools have signed up for support from FGSL so far, 87% of schools that have completed our FGSL survey have said they are involved in food growing, of which 79% cent of pupils involved have improved behaviour and attainment as a result, and 1,000 people have received training from FGSL to date. Amazing!
Food For Life Catering Mark (listed in red on chart)
The Soil Association Food For Life Catering Mark helps organisations – from schools to nurseries to museums and staff restaurants – ensure they serve traceable, sustainable, healthier food. For this measure, the GFFL 2016 report shows that in 21 boroughs, the majority of schools are now serving Silver or Gold catering mark meals and many expanded catering mark meals to nurseries. This is remarkable especially considering in 2011 no boroughs were serving Gold catering mark meals and only eight were serving Silver in the majority of schools. But the work is far from done. This leaves out almost one third of borough where the majority of schools don’t serve meals with the accreditation. Food for Life is one of six FGSL partners.
Changing food culture in schools
From September 2015 the new OFSTED inspection framework has an increased focus on healthy eating and knowledge of how to eat healthily. The GFFL 2016 report also measures changes in food culture in schools by looking at progress in two evidenced-based programmes: Food for Life and Healthy Schools London. The report shows that 22 boroughs are making ‘some progress’ and only seven are making ‘good progress’ in engaging with these school programmes.
Food Flagships two years on – Croydon and Lambeth
In June 2014, the Mayor of London launched the Food Flagship programme in two pilot boroughs: Croydon and Lambeth, encouraging the wider community to make healthy eating normal. Lots has been achieved, and Food Growing Schools: London has supported these initiatives by doing food growing activities and training in in both boroughs, and supporting with a Schools Marketplace, four school Edible Playgrounds (with Trees for Cities) and Master Gardener community growing (with Garden Organic) in Croydon.
FGSL – continued support for London boroughs
The full Good Food For London 2016 report shows that great strides have been made to improve food culture in London, and FGSL is a big part of this. But we want to do even more with schools. Find out more about FGSL Support including.
This week has seen the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan support innovative London food initiatives at the Urban Food Awards, held at Borough Market. The event was organised by Sustain during Urban Food Fortnight 2016, masterminds behind our FGSL partner project Capital Growth. Among the award finalists were Berrymede Junior School in Ealing who were shortlisted* for Capital Growth’s Growing Enterprise Award, for entrepreneurs generating income from and for their community food gardens, including schools.
Are you inspired by Berrymede Junior School to grow food in your school? Come along to our FGSL Celebration Event at City Hall, opened by the Deputy Mayor of London Joanne McCartney, and find out more about how Food Growing Schools: London can help you do the same. There are only 3 weeks to go before the GLA opens the doors of City Hall to Food Growing Schools: London! Places are limited so book soon.
At the Urban Food Awards Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “I salute the breadth and expertise of the huge numbers of Londoners producing and growing the very best food and drink and it’s fantastic to see their entrepreneurship flourishing in our great city”.
Our celebration event takes place on Thursday 13 October 2016, from 10.45 – 1.30pm in the prestigious London’s Living Room at City Hall. It will be a fantastic opportunity to bring together people from across the capital to join us in seeking our ambition to get every London school growing their own food! And you can tuck in to some tasty school-grown produce downstairs in our sixth Schools Marketplace, as part of this Autumn terms Grow Your Own Business activities.
At the event you can meet our expert FGSL partners and hear about school food growing initiatives taking place all across London. Garden Organic as the lead organisation is working together with partners, Capital Growth, the Soil Association’s Food For Life project, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), School Food Matters and Trees for Cities. The project is supported by the Big Lottery Fund and the Greater London Authority.
Berrymede Junior School launched their Edible Playground in October 2015, with the support of our partners Trees for Cities, School Food Matters and Soil Association Food For Life. In only one year they have achieved so much – from garden fork to enterprising school food project, and now finalists in the Urban Food Awards. Amazing! Forty Hall Community Vineyard scooped the winning prize for Capital Growth’s Growing Enterprise Award. To check out the other winners visit the Sustain website.
Organised by Sustain, Urban Food Fortnight is the capital’s celebration of the fabulous ultra-local produce being grown, produced and cooked on our doorstep. Events will take place across London during these two weeks including pop-up dinners in community gardens, special menus featuring London-grown produce, food talks and more. Try cheese from Tottenham, lamb reared in Enfield and salad grown in Hackney and take inspiration back to your own plot ready for some Autumn sowing and Spring planning. (Capital Growth)
Get a taste of London’s edible gardens as Capital Growth community food growing gardens open their doors and welcome visitors in for free. Events include foraging walks, cob oven pizza feasts, fresh apple pressing, bonfires and musical performances. You can even enter your own school grown produce in a classic vegetable show in Stratford, or take inspiration and get tips on how to grow your own in Bethnal Green.
Check out the map to find out what’s happening near you.
Organised by Trading Visions and Fairtrade Foundation, this conference is to inspire pupils, teachers and support staff in London about Fairtrade. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to hear two special guests, Esther and Samuel both aged 15, from a cocoa growing community in Ghana, who will speak about the Kuapa Kokoo Fairtrade co-operative that co-owns Divine Chocolate. Other highlights include workshops on cocoa and the impact of Fairtrade, plus a make-your-own smoothie bike, and an opportunity to learn how to taste chocolate properly – yum!
The conference is open to students aged 7-14. Places coste £2 each and are limited to up to two adults and eight students per school. Snacks and drinks for breaks will be provided but please bring a packed lunch.