Best crop yet – 87% of London schools involved in food growing!

Since the launch of the Food Growing Schools: London Partnership in 2013 we have been working hard to help schools across London to grow their own food.  Over the summer we tasked research teams from the University of the West of England (Bristol) and Cardiff University to carry out an independent project evaluation so we could see how we were doing, and we’re pretty proud of the results.

The interim report was launched at City Hall on 13th October 2016 with support from Joanne McCartney AM, Deputy Mayor for London.  You can read the report in full but here are our favourite bits!

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More schools and pupils involved

87% of London schools that completed the Food Growing Schools: London survey* are now involved in food growing, and double the number of pupils are growing food in their schools. Our Growathon engaged 54,000 pupils in food growing in London up to July 2016, and 1 in 4 schools now link food growing directly to curriculum activities, embedding knowledge and skills.

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Improved skills, knowledge and behaviour

Schools have told us that food growing is having a positive impact on the education, health and well-being of their pupils, way beyond just getting their hands dirty and learning outside. 61.7% said students were more aware of nature, healthy eating and sustainability, 76.2% said pupils had enhanced knowledge and skills, and a whopping 79.2% reported improved behaviour or attainment.  That’s got to be something to celebrate!

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Increased community involvement

Schools told us that food growing has helped them to increase involvement from parents and the local community including businesses and voluntary organisations, with around 1,000 volunteers and school staff undertaking food growing training.  FGSL is helping to promote sustainability by creating strong supportive local networks where schools can help each other – sharing experience and knowledge through forums and FGSL’s pan-London school food growing conferences.

Don’t stop now!

Together, we have discovered the huge benefits of growing food in schools – improving young people’s education, health, the environment, the local economy and the impact on the local community. It’s vital now that we all continue to work together to help young people in our schools keep growing and flourishing.

Whether you are already growing food in your school, you wish to get started, or you represent an organisation who can help, here are just a few of our fantastic resources to help you get involved:

Planting seeds for the future

We think this is all pretty exciting but the undeniable benefits of food growing mean we’re keener than ever to improve on our achievements to date. We want to reach every London school and as many pupils as possible, and we want food growing to be more deeply embedded within schools.  We have the help of our wonderful partners but the Food Growing Schools: London project is due to end in March 2017.

We are looking for funding and support to continue to make an impact in schools across London, so if you can help us to reach our goals please contact FGSL Project Manager, Kate Groves: kgroves@gardenorganic.org.uk.

Food Growing Schools: London – Sowing Ideas. Growing Inspiration. Cultivating Futures.

*Figures based on evaluation surveys with lead school teachers in September 2013 (n=504) and July 2016 (n=241). The independent FGSL project evaluation was carried out by research teams from the University of the West England and Cardiff University.

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London schools celebrate food growing success at City Hall

Junior Gardeners’ Question Time at the Food Growing Schools: London Celebration Event at City Hall. The young panellists were from Trafalgar Infant School (Richmond), Rokesly Junior School (Haringey) and Reay Primary School (Lambeth).
Junior Gardeners’ Question Time panelists from Trafalgar Infant School (Richmond), Rokesly Junior School (Haringey) and Reay Primary School (Lambeth). Photo: Jane Baker/Garden Organic.

From strawberry jam to tomato ketchup, and the great British apple to winter salad bags – young entrepreneurs from 10 London schools shared their food growing skills with the public at City Hall on Thursday 13 October 2016. They represent the increasing number of London students experiencing the huge benefits of food growing since the launch of Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) in 2013.

On Thursday 13 October 2016 during a unique FGSL Celebration Event, students showcased their school-grown produce at the sixth FGSL Schools Marketplace, run in partnership with Capital Growth, and took to the stage in the prestigious London’s Living Room.

The event was opened by Joanne McCartney AM, Deputy Mayor for London, and Deputy Mayor for Education and Childcare, for the Greater London Authority. It included the launch of the FGSL Interim Report (October 2016), showing the wide ranging benefits of food growing. There was also FGSL’s very own Junior Gardener’s Question Time, chaired by former Blue Peter Gardener Chris Collins – with food growing questions answered by children from schools across London.

When he attended the last Schools Marketplace at City Hall, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “ I’m really pleased to host the Schools Marketplace in City Hall. I want to help Londoners to have access to better food, and lead healthier lifestyles, so it’s great to see these young people growing their own grub and developing entrepreneurial skills.”

Students from schools in Croydon, Ealing, Greenwich, Haringey, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Richmond and Southwark took part, and won prizes as part of the *Schools Marketplace Competition.

Fred Wilcox, RHS Young Gardener of the Year, at the Food Growing Schools: London Schools Marketplace with City Hall staff. Trafalgar Infants School, Richmond. Jane Baker/Garden Organic
Fred Wilcox, RHS Young Gardener of the Year at the Schools Marketplace, selling produce from the Trafalgar Infant School stall (Richmond) to City Hall staff. Jane Baker/Garden Organic

*Schools Marketplace participants and competition prize winners:

  • Athelney Primary School, Lewisham
  • Charlton Park Academy, Greenwich
  • Dormers Wells High School, Ealing
  • Elmwood Primary School, Croydon
  • *Holy Trinity C of E Primary School, Lewisham: Winners – ‘Best Dressed Stall’
  • *Kelvin Grove Primary School, Lewisham: Winners – ‘People’s Choice’
  • Reay Primary School, Lambeth
  • *Rokesly Junior School, Haringey: Winners – ‘Most Enterprising Product’
  • Rotherhithe Primary School, Southwark
  • Trafalgar Infant School, Richmond

Mark Dale-Emberton, Principle at Charlton Park Academy, Greenwich said: “Working with Food Growing Schools: London has helped us re-evaluate and reenergise the staff and students. We have looked afresh at our curriculum and how we can use the food that we grow to improve our meals, health and general wellbeing.”

Since their launch in 2013, Food Growing Schools: London have seen an amazing 25 out of 33 London boroughs step up to promote food growing in schools. The Benefits of Food Growing are impressive and far reaching – showing a positive impact on children’s physical and mental health, environment and education, and the local community and economy. Nearly 80% of schools engaged with FGSL have reported improved behaviour or attainment in students as a result of food growing, and one in four schools now use food growing as a teaching tool linked to curriculum activities. The FGSL report, containing the outcomes of an independent project evaluation by University of the West England, celebrates the successes of this innovative London-wide partnership, led by Garden Organic. The project is supported by the Mayor of London and the Big Lottery Fund.

James Campbell, Chief Executive, Garden Organic said: “I am deeply proud of what we have achieved so far — *87% of London schools are now growing food and considerably more pupils, parents, community members and businesses are involved.”

Speakers at the celebration event included Chris Collins (former Blue Peter Gardener, Broadcaster and Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic), James Campbell (CEO Garden Organic), Judy Orme (Professor of Public Health and Sustainability) and Mat Jones (Associate Professor of Public Health, University of West England).

Chris Collins, Broadcaster and Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic said: “I’m lucky to be out and about meeting students all the time, and it’s been amazing to see the difference Food Growing Schools: London is having in our London schools. The food growing support, resources and expertise the partnership provides is fantastic. Every school should take advantage and get involved!”

Whether you are already growing food in your school, you wish to get started, or you represent an organisation who can help, Food Growing Schools: London is open to all to Get Involved.

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Notes

Jane Baker – Communications Officer, Food Growing Schools: London
07474210703 (PT – Mon to Thurs only)
jbaker@gardenorganic.org.uk
www.foodgrowingschools.org / https://twitter.com/FoodGrowSchools

Spokespeople – Chris Collins (Broadcaster and Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic) and James Campbell (CEO Garden Organic)

Food Growing Schools: London is an ambitious Lottery funded project, supported by the Mayor of London that aims to get every London school growing their own food. 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 Schools Marketplace, organised with FGSL partner Capital Growth, took place as part of Grow Your Own Business 2016. #GYOBusiness

FGSL Interim Project Report (October 2016)*
An independent project evaluation by University of the West England (Bristol), summarising the progress of the programme in its third year, assessing the impacts of FGSL for participants and wider stakeholders, focusing on schools and those supporting school food growing. To download the full report visit: Our Achievements

*Figures based on evaluation surveys with lead school teachers in September 2013 (n=504) and July 2016 (n=241). The independent FGSL project evaluation was carried out by research teams from the University of the West England and Cardiff University.

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