Heads share what schools do with their fruit & veg

Survey of Trees for Cities Edible Playground schools

Winter is the perfect time to ensure your beds are ready for the sunnier days ahead. And it’s a fun opportunity to plan the lessons you’ll teach outside and the produce you want to grow this season.

For some inspiration on what to do with all the produce once it’s grown, a recent Trees for Cities survey of Edible Playground schools offers some inspiration.

The survey found that produce is being used in a huge variety of ways; sold to parents and others at school events, garden markets or direct to restaurants, put straight into school meals as ingredients for cooking club, or eaten straight out of the beds during lessons, gardening club or playtime – a fantastic way for the children to reap the rewards of their hard work.

What could be better than that?

To discover more about Edible Playgrounds, click here.


Free trees are back for London primary schools!

Order your free pack of saplings from 15 January for planting with pupils on your school grounds next winter: http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/free-trees/.

State primary schools which haven’t ordered tree packs previously, or for a long time, are eligible to apply.

This is a fantastic opportunity to get your children outside to learn about nature, improve the local environment at your school and create a much needed home for our urban wildlife. Packs as small as 30 saplings are available, so you don’t need much space to get involved!

Trees for Cities will provide all the necessary support to make you feel confident in planting and caring for your new saplings. They are the London delivery partner for the ‘Trees for Schools’ programme, funded by Defra and delivered in partnership with the Woodland Trust.

Please contact Trees for Cities for more information on 02075871320 or schools@treesforcities.org

Matchfunds for Trees for Cities Edible Playgrounds

Trees for Cities and Bulb, the UK renewable energy supplier, are looking for London schools interested in transforming their playgrounds into food growing spaces and building their capacity to teach through gardening.

The Edible Playgrounds project includes designing and building a bespoke, vibrant and functional teaching garden alongside teacher training, curriculum mapping and other support to build teacher’s confidence and skills to teach outside.

See more about the programme here www.edibleplaygrounds.org


Through the Bulb partnership Trees for Cities is excited to offer generous matchfunds towards all projects.

Get in touch with Trees for Cities to find out more.

Please contact carys@treesforcities.org or complete an expression of interest form www.edibleplaygrounds.org/early-expression-of-interest


Trees for Cities’ Jenny Hindson wins Learning Outside the Classroom Award

From left to right: Martin Giles (Head Teacher at Meridian High), Jenny Hindson (Trees for Cities), Ros Sandell (Head Teacher at Fairchildes Primary) and Councillor Louisa Woodley

Updated 17 Nov 2017.

Congrats to Jenny Hindson and Trees for Cities for winning the LOtC Innovator Award for their Edible Playgrounds work!

Originally published 10 Nov 2017.

The shortlisted nominees for the Awards for Outstanding Contribution to LOtC (Learning Outside the Classroom) 2017 have been selected and we congratulate all the LOtC Heroes who are going the extra mile to help young people experience the world beyond the classroom walls.

The LOtC Awards recognise individuals and teams of people who have made a significant impact on the lives of children and young people through their commitment to providing and/or championing exciting and inspiring learning outside the classroom opportunities.

We’re proud to say that Jenny Hindson, Communities, Engagement and Volunteer Manager at Food Growing Schools: London partner organisation Trees for Cities has been nominated for an award for her Outstanding Contribution to Learning Outside the Classroom.

Edible Playgrounds

Trees for Cities runs an inspiring project called Edible Playgrounds that transforms 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, Edible Playgrounds can help to 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.

We invite you to support their work and to recognise Jenny Hindson‘s dedication for her excellent work and commitment to improving the lives of children and their families.

Nominations Announced

The winners will be announced at the LOtC Awards dinner at Ingestre Hall Residential Arts Centre next Thursday 16th November 2017, following the CLOtC Conference.

Here are the shortlisted nominees for LOtC Innovator (sponsored by YHA):

  • Jenny Hindson, Trees for Cities
  • Matt Hodgson, British Exploring Society
  • Bethan Painter, Environmental Studies
  • Young Egyptologist Workshop Team, The Egypt Centre Swansea University
  • Matt Hodgson, British Exploring Society
  • Bethan Painter, Environmental Studies
  • Young Egyptologist Workshop Team, The Egypt Centre Swansea University

Read the nominations in more detail for LOtC Heroes here.

Trees for Cities is hiring for Edible Playgrounds programme

Trees for Cities is an ambitious, far-reaching organisation.

Since its inception they have engaged over 65,000 people to plant 500,000 trees focusing on health, food security, and environmental protection and providing opportunities for education and learning through the Edible Playgrounds and Urban Forest programmes.

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.

Now Recruiting

If you have a passion for food growing in schools and are looking for work in London, there are a couple great opportunities to join the Edible Playgrounds team. The roles of Landscape Coordinator and Project Development Officer are currently available- find out more here.

If you’d like to find out more about Edible Playgrounds, click here.




Primary school’s Edible Playground a hit with pupils

Manorfield Primary School, in Tower Hamlets, celebrated the launch of their Edible Playground this summer, receiving a Food for Life Award for their innovative approach to integrating healthy food education into the school curriculum.

Watch this BBC Education video to hear what the pupils had to say about the impact their Edible Playground has made in their lives!


Thanks to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Ernest Cook Trust and City Bridge Trust, Trees for Cities – and their programme partners, Chefs Adopt a School and School Food Matters – have worked with Manorfield to create a eye-catching orange honeycomb trellised fruit and vegetable garden, abundant with seasonal school-grown herbs, salads and vegetables; in addition to a multifunction outdoor classroom area and impressive nature garden, rich in diverse urban wildlife.

The new interactive outdoor space has transformed the way pupils learn about food origins and has provided an opportunity to explore healthy eating through seasonal planting and harvesting lessons throughout the year.

For more information contact the Edible Playgrounds team on 020 7840 5956 or by emailing info@edibleplaygrounds.org

Put food growing on your curriculum

Looking after the seedlings
Looking after the seedlings

‘Lack of time in the curriculum’ came in the top three of barriers to food growing faced by schools in our schools survey. Schools have to achieve so much but instead of being an add-on, food growing can actually help to deliver the curriculum and has been known to increase attainment levels too.

Growing a few spuds or some tomatoes is fun and relatively easy, but it’s when food growing is linked to the curriculum, and ideally across the whole school, that the real magic happens.

At Charlton Manor Primary food growing is incorporated across all subjects and lessons are planned with a gardener and chef to revolve around the garden. Headteacher Tim Baker is convinced this ‘learning through doing’ approach has helped children to make sense of the curriculum as well as encouraging them to lead healthier lives. The school has reported better concentration and behaviour, and increases in attendance and attainment as a result of their whole school approach to food growing.

It’s not just the obvious subjects. FGSL partner Trees for Cities surveyed the 50 schools they have helped and while all Headteachers said that they used their edible playgrounds for Maths and Science lessons, schools were using the garden for other subjects too. English and Art were high on the list with 92%, followed by Design and Technology (76%), Geography (30%), Languages (23%), RE and ICT (15%) and History (7%).

Chisenhale School has made their garden a learning place for the whole school with classes across all subjects being held in their outdoor classroom. Children have also sold the produce, linking food growing to curriculum areas like marketing and enterprise. Parent gardener Cassie Liversidge has seen children who struggle to concentrate in the classroom, building confidence and skills through the garden.

Top ideas for curriculum-linked activities

  • Science – learning about growing plants, wild habitats and lifecycles
  • English – using the garden as inspiration for creative writing
  • Design Technology – constructing wildlife habitats like hedgehog boxes and bird feeders
  • Maths – counting birds and other wildlife, measuring beans or sunflowers
  • Geography – growing different foods from around the world
  • History – Foraging with stone age man, growing herbs for victorian remedies
  • Cooking and nutrition – using organic produce from the garden

Recipe for Success

  1. Build support for food growing with teachers and the management team – share FGSL research on the benefits of food growing.
  2. Take advantage of the huge amount of free resources available online to help link food growing to the curriculum. Start with the Termly Packs from FGSL and growing resources from FGSL Partners including these from the RHS Campaign for School Gardening.

Tree-mendous tree survey

Trees for Cities_plantingOur 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.

Can you help? Complete the big tree survey here.

If you any questions about the ‘Trees for Schools’ programme or this survey please contact jenny@treesforcities.org

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