Autumn teachers’ Food Growing Forum an all-round success!

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.

Feedback

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 fgslondon@gardenorganic.org.uk or call 02476217747.

 

 

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

Grow Well, Feel Well – summer summit

Photo credit: Capital Growth

Grow Well, Feel Well

Join Food Growing Schools: London partner Capital Growth on Wednesday 5 July for their summer summit all about health, well-being and growing food in the city.

From mindfulness and garden design, to growing nutrient rich plants and therapeutic horticulture, the afternoon will include workshops and speakers on a variety of topics, plus time to enjoy the onsite permaculture garden and meet other attendees.

Tickets available via Eventbrite or visit the Capital Growth website for more info.

Local School Nature Grants Scheme

Learning through Landscapes Nature GrantsFood Growing Schools: London’s lead partner Garden Organic are delighted to be a supplier in the Local School Nature Grants Scheme, helping schools branch out into nature

What do birdboxes, bee hotels, den making kits and nature experts all have in common? They are all available free to schools as part of Learning through Landscapes’ Local School Nature Grants Programme, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery: http://www.ltl.org.uk/naturegrants/

Learning through Landscapes is a UK charity dedicated to enhancing outdoor learning and play for children. The grants provide an assortment of nature equipment and training up to the value of £500. The packages are customisable, enabling schools to choose from a menu of items which best suit their learners and their setting. All schools in England, Scotland and Wales are welcome to apply.

For example the Garden Organic Get Growing Kit includes:

A great pack of resources to actually get you growing:
1 x Starter pack of seeds
(18 packets of organic fruit and vegetable seeds plus edible flowers. (Exact seeds provided will depend on the season))
1 x term time growing planner
1 x pack of 25 vegetable growing cards
1 x composting booklet
1 x soil information pack
(Total 23 items)

The other suppliers are Glasgow Wood Recycling, Outdoor People, RSPB, MindStretchers and Touchwood.

The aim is to make it easy to get young people in touch with nature, and so the application process is quick and straight forward. The programme launches in late January 2017 and will be open to applications for a full year.

The project is funded by Postcode Local Trust, which receives funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

This scheme does not provide cash grants for schools.

To find out more visit: Local School Nature Grants Programme.

To find out about more competitions, offers and funds on the Food Growing Schools: London website visit: Competitions

 

Sowing the seed: FGSL assembly success

Garden Organic/Jane Baker

Our Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) survey has shown that many schools are looking for support to get growing, through training, resources and class activities. Our free, fun and engaging FGSL assembly is bringing inspiration to schools with groups of any age and size across the Capital.

Our assemblies: the results?

So far, over 2,000 pupils have welcomed an assembly – learning why slugs have noses and tomatoes are carnivores! And of course about the benefits of growing your own food, and how you can Grow Your Own Business and build a career as a result. Schools are telling us that they’ve really benefited from the whole school talking about food growing all together.

North Ealing Primary learnt that they can successfully grow produce on their fully concreted grounds. And so can you. You don’t need a designated space, you can use window sill planters and create vertical gardens or even grow on the roof! We’ve seen lots of schools doing this – like John Ruskin Primary in Southwark.

Since our assembly at Manorfield Primary School in Tower Hamlets, all 711 children have sampled tasters of different fruit and vegetables to give input to a planting plan, and the school are working with Trees for Cities to develop a fully functioning Edible Playground.

Set up your school garden from scratch

Our Spring into Growing activities this term are perfect for helping your school set up a garden from scratch. 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. Plan it. Build it. Grow it! Check out this information from the Royal Horticultural Society too, and an abundance of other FGSL resources for inspiration.

After a food growing assembly for your school?

To find out more visit: FGSL School Assemblies

Apply Primary Maths & English Skills Outdoors

Maths and English. Photo: RHS
Maths and English. Photo: RHS

Have you ever thought about taking your pupils outside for maths and English lessons? Being in the school garden or a beautiful local green space will inspire your pupils to learn, enjoy and achieve in these subjects.

Last chance to book your place on this fantastic RHS Campaign for School Gardening workshop – at Hampton Hill Junior School next Tuesday 8 November 2016

Trees offer many opportunities for maths activities ranging from estimation to tessellation skills. Plant propagation offers pupils a practical way to understand fractions and decimals. The natural world can provide openings for discussion and creative writing on a range of subjects. Gardens encourage children to question and explore new ideas and build their skills through listening, talking, watching and reading. Seed packets are ideal for helping children to write instructions as well as giving them a flavour of the seasons. Flowers have been the subject of much poetry and creative writing over the years.

Key Stages targeted: Key Stages 1 and 2
Level of experience: Suitable for beginners and those with some experience.

Aims and Activities

  • Identify the outdoor places and types of activities that will inspire your pupils to become successful learners
  • Learn useful gardening skills which can be used to engage pupils with maths and English programmes of study
  • Write your own activities using the outdoors as a basis for teaching maths or English skills

Booking Information

Venue: Hampton Hill Junior School, St James Avenue, Hampton Hill, TW12 1HW
Date: 8th November 2016
Cost: £95 per person.  £170 if you book two separate courses or two places on the same course.
CPD Provider:   Chris Young

To book visit the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website.

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