Congratulations! ‘Grow’ book prize draw winners

FGSL Competition - Grow book prizes by Ben RaskinDuring February Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) teamed up with Author Ben Raskin and Leaping Hare Press to launch an exciting prize draw. For London schools to win ‘Grow’, a fantastic new illustrated book helping children to get inspired to grow food. We received a huge number of entries from primary schools all across London, with many sharing their exciting plans to grow food with students this year.

Announcing the ‘Grow’ book winners
Congratulations to the following schools who won ‘Grow’ the book:

  • St Leonards Church of England School, Lambeth
  • Linton Mead primary School, Greenwich
  • Cranford Primary School, Hounslow
  • Stoneydown Park Primary School, Waltham Forest
  • Streatham Wells Primary School, Lambeth
  • Akiva School, Barnet
  • Reay Primary School, Lambeth
  • Gilbert Colvin, Redbridge
  • Marner Primary School, Tower Hamlets

Three lucky schools were also picked to receive ‘Grow’, and a visit from the Author Ben Raskin to bring the activities in the book alive. Congratulations to you too. We will be in touch soon to arrange a time to visit your school:

  • St Joseph’s Primary School, Wandsworth
  • King Athelstan Primary, Kingston Upon Thames
  • Abbotsfield School, Hillingdon

We were particularly excited to hear lots of exciting plans to grow food in your schools this year, including:

” We are starting the Edible playgrounds project in February, so we are expecting the whole school to be involved in growing.  We will be including parents and making sure that all classes are using the garden for lessons across the curriculum.”

” In Year 3  [we will be growing] pumpkins to look at how feeding the soil helps hungry plants, in Year 4 herbs to support learning about the Romans, peppers in Year 5 to learn about the Americas and in Year 6 [growing] tomatoes and cucumber to make Israeli salads! “

First one hundred schools – win a ‘Grow’ activity pack
If you were quick off the mark you may be one of the first 100 schools to enter who have won an exclusive, limited-edition ‘Grow’ activity pack. Keep an eye out for one winging its way to your school. It includes games such as Worms and Ladders, Compost Bingo, seeds and stickers! Fingers crossed!

There are lots of competitions, offers and funds available to help schools grow food this Spring. Find out more here – good luck: Competitions

FGSL support and inspiration to grow
We hope that our ‘Grow’ book competition has inspired your primary school to grow food. If you are looking for help or ideas to get started FGSL can help. We provide the following support and more:

  • Join Spring into Growing 2017 – Plan it. Build it. Grow it!
  • Free school food growing activity packs and learning resources
  • Training and events
  • Advice from dedicated School Engagement Officers
  • Support from six expert partner organisations

Find out how FGSL can help your school here: Support to grow

Happy growing this Spring!

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

Prize draw launches: Win ‘Grow’ – the book!

GROW by Ben Raskin. Leaping Hare Press.
GROW by Ben Raskin. Leaping Hare Press.

Be one of only 10 London primary schools to win a copy of ‘Grow’, a fantastic new illustrated book helping children to get inspired to grow food, and a visit from the author!

Plus, the first 100 schools to enter will also win an exclusive, limited-edition activity pack. It includes games such as Worms and Ladders, Compost Bingo, seeds and stickers! FGSL have teamed up with Ben Raskin and Leaping Hare Press for this exciting prize draw. This prize draw launches on Tuesday 17 January 2017.

About Grow – the book

In Grow, a beautifully illustrated guide to growing by Ben Raskin, Head of Horticulture at the Soil Association, you’ll get all the inspiration and knowledge you need to get out there and start planting.

Have you ever wondered how plants work? Or why we eat the fruit of one plant, but the leaves of another? What’s the big deal about growing things – and how do we decide what we need to grow in the space we have? Discover the whole life cycle of food, from sowing and saving to planning and planting, and – most exciting of all – harvesting the food you’ve grown. Ben Raskin’s books Grow and Compost come complete with some fantastic activity ideas to get children excited about growing food.

To enter: answer a few simple questions on Survey Monkey and make sure you have completed the FGSL survey. Deadline to enter: 5pm, Thursday 9 February 2017. More details here: Competitions.

*This prize draw is open to all London primary schools who have completed our FGSL survey only.


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!

Back to school top tips for Autumn

The Summer holidays are over and we’re back to school.  The mixture of sunshine and showers over the holiday period has been kind to the crops but with a new group of enthusiastic reception students and excited returning student gardeners, what tasks should you put to the top of the list this term?


You may still have some fruit and vegetables growing in your plots.  Over the next couple of weeks it’s time to dig most of them up and start planning a tasty meal. Vegetables like carrots, potatoesonions and beetroot can be harvested along with the last of the fruits like raspberries, blackberries, apples, pears and tomatoes.  If you can’t use them all straight away, our friends at Garden Organic have some great advice on storing your produce. Or you could try preserving them in jams, chutneys, pickles and juices.

Even better, why not encourage your enterprising youngsters to turn their produce into cash?  Enterprise Events held across London offer the opportunity to sell at markets or stores, but students can also set up their own pop up market at school to give parents and the local community a chance to taste their gardening successes.

The brand new Grow Your Own Business themed activity pack for 2016 is packed full of ideas and tips to help your students to Sow It. Grow It. Sell It!  The free to download pack includes links to enterprise resources, activity sheets, partner events, competitions, and top tips on growing, cooking and selling your school produce, and much much more…

Sowing and Growing

It’s not just about harvesting though, make sure you plan your plot to get the most out of the Autumn and Winter seasons.  September is a good time to try some late sowing of quick growing plants – leafy varieties like spring cabbage, pea shoots, pak choi and winter lettuce can be ready in just a few weeks.  Other seeds to try in September include chard, rocket, kale, spinach and mustard.

And as a final late autumn treat, put some seed potatoes in a large pot or sack, keep in the warmest part of the garden and transfer to a greenhouse once it starts to get a bit nippy outside.  With a bit of luck, they will be ready to harvest just before your school Christmas meal!

Sow it. Grow it. Sell it!

Schools Marketplace City Hall. Photo: Jane Baker/Garden Organic
Schools Marketplace City Hall. Photo: Jane Baker/Garden Organic

From strawberry jam to tomato ketchup, and the great British apple to winter salad bags – young entrepreneurs are bringing harvest time to the city. From September to December 2016, schools across London are rolling up their sleeves to take part in Grow Your Own Business, a city-wide celebration of school food growing, enterprise and learning, creating young entrepreneurs and healthier local communities.

With the expert guidance of the Food Growing Schools: London partnership, students can learn the secret to starting their own school food growing business, raising money for their school, developing employment skills and selling healthy, home-grown food to and with their local community. Download our FREE schools activity pack to find out how.

The highlight of the term sees the Mayor of London’s Food team opening the doors of the prestigious City Hall, for the Schools Marketplace, on Thursday 13th October 2015 from 11am to 2pm. The event is organised with project partner, Capital Growth. Enterprising schools who plan for a bumper crop can apply here to be one of only 15 schools to have a free marketplace stall by Wednesday 28 September.

We are also excited to be hosting our FGSL Celebration Event, from 10.45pm to 1.30pm upstairs in the Living Room at City Hall. This is an invitation only event. To register your interest in attending, email:

Schools that succeed in securing a stall at the Schools Marketplace will be entered into our Marketplace Competition, celebrating the most enterprising schools with prizes being given out on the day. Categories will include the Best Dressed Stall, Most Enterprising Product and the People’s Choice of their favourite stall.

We will also announce the winners of our FGSL Schools Survey Prize Draw, with prizes including a meal for two at Wahaca worth £50 and a visit from the FGSL team to give one-to-one gardening support. Last chance to win by completing our survey.

Why Grow Your Own Business? Grow Your Own Business offers schools the opportunity to learn about enterprise through growing and selling food, giving children the chance to learn new business and employment skills, across a range of subjects (e.g. maths, technology, PSHE). Enterprise activities can engage students of all ages and capabilities, even those children who aren’t interested in the garden or healthy eating.

Download our FREE Grow Your Own Business 2016 schools activity pack.

Share your enterprise stories and tweets here: #GYOBusiness




Grow your Own Picnic: Competitions and Offers 2015


Grow Your Own Picnic 2015

Sow it. Grow it. Share it! – Summer Term

A celebration of summer, sunshine and food growing in your school playground. Plant a seed, and watch your school garden grow. Then share a delicious home-grown lunch with your friends, school and community – on your very own Picnic Day! Learn how to grow, cook and prepare home-made dips, sandwiches, salads, and desserts – packed full of nature’s goodness. A picnic feast for the whole community.

Why Grow Your Own Picnic?

Grow Your Own Picnic gives your school the opportunity to engage all pupils, teachers and the local community through your school garden, by growing, cooking and sharing your produce, and using it to deliver elements of your school curriculum.

AnchorCompetitions and Offers 2015

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, with competition sponsor Michael Hedges, Managing Director of Chase Organics and The Organic Gardening Catalogue, awarding first prize for the Grow Your Own School Garden Competition to Richard Challoner School, Kingston. Photo Jane Baker/Garden Organic
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, with competition sponsor Michael Hedges, Managing Director of Chase Organics and The Organic Gardening Catalogue, awarding first prize for the Grow Your Own School Garden Competition to Richard Challoner School, Kingston. Photo Jane Baker/Garden Organic

Grow Your Own School Garden Competition 2015

For schools who are not yet growing

The Food Growing Schools: London partnership launched a fantastic new London schools gardening competition for London schools to enter who aren’t yet growing food. Schools had to create a garden team, plan a school garden from scratch and create and equipment wishlist.

Congratulations – to the following three winning London schools:

1st Prize – Richard Challoner School (Kingston)
2nd Prize – Our Lady of Grace Catholic Infant School (Brent)
3rd Prize – Richmond Park Academy (Richmond)

Award Ceremony – took place at the Schools Marketplace, City Hall on Thursday 9th July 2015.

Expert Judge – the competition was judged by Chris Collins, BBC TV Gardener.

Competition Sponsors – The Organic Gardening Catalogue, Haxnicks, VegTrug.

Competition details here: News and Competitions

The Organic Gardening Catalogue

Veg Trug Logo Haxnicks logo

Grow Your Own Picnic 2015
Photography Competition

Capital Growth also ran a photography competition to celebrate what London schools are growing, as part of Grow Your Own Picnic 2015.

Congratulations – to the following three winning London schools:

  • Trafalgar Infant School. Category: Picture of your garden/produce taken by a child under 18 (below, portrait)
  • Brunswick Park School. Category: Pupils planting, harvesting, cooking or eating your picnic (below, left)
    Christchurch Primary School. Category: School volunteers helping pupils in the garden (below, right)

Brunswick Park School_GYOP2015 competition winners   Christ Church Primary_GYOP2015 competition winners

Trafalgar Infants_GYOP2015 competition winners

Events 2015

Schools Marketplace, City Hall

Schools receive surprise Mayor of London visit at the School’s Marketplace, City Hall

Christ Church Church of England School (Battersea, Wandsworth) eagerly selling their school produce at the Schools Marketplace at City Hall.Christ Church Church of England School (Wandsworth) eagerly selling their school produce at the Schools Marketplace at City Hall. Photo: Jane Baker/Garden Organic.

The Schools’s Marketplace at City Hall, on Thursday 9th July, was a huge success, with 10 London schools battling their way through the London tube strike to arrive laden with produce to sell to the public. During the School’s Marketplace the school’s had a surprise visit from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson who visited every one of their stalls and went home with armfuls of school-grown produce. As you can imagine, the students (and teachers!), were very excited to welcome this special guest.

Grow Your Own School Garden Competition – Announcing the Winners!

At the School’s Marketplace The Mayor of London also took part in giving out the prizes at our ‘Grow your Own School Garden Competition’ Award Ceremony, with our generous competition sponsors. A huge thank you to The Organic Gardening Catalogue, Haxnicks and VegTrug for donating the competition prizes. Congratulations to the following three schools who received their awards to huge applause, and look forward to setting up their own school gardens. Read more.

Schools Marketplace, Thurs 9 July 2015 – participating school stallholders:

Congratulations to all these enterprising schools. You were amazing!

  • Bensham Manor, Croydon
  • Bethnal Green Academy, Tower Hamlets
  • Charlton Park Academy, Greenwich
  • Christ Church CE Primary, Wandsworth
  • Glebe School, Bromley
  • Park View Secondary, Haringey
  • Rhyl Primary, Camden
  • Selwyn Primary, Newham
  • The UCL Academy, Camden
  • Trafalgar Infant School, Richmond

To find out more about the day visit our News page and Flickr photo gallery.

Rosie Boycott (Mayor of London Food Advisor) and Thomasina Miers (former Masterchef winner) at Phoenix High School Farm for Grow Your Own Picnic 2014. Photo: Eleonore De Bonneval/Garden OrganicRosie Boycott (Mayor of London Food Advisor) and Thomasina Miers (former Masterchef winner) at Phoenix High School Farm for Grow Your Own Picnic 2014. Photo: Eleonore De Bonneval/Garden Organic

Past Picnic Events – 2014

Grow Your Own Picnic last took place in Summer 2014, to coincide with the launch of Food Growing Schools: London. Read the summary below or download the full story (PDF).

Grow Your Own Picnic 2014 and the launch of Food Growing Schools: London
Sun, salad and school growing success! Food Growing Schools: London launched with a flurry of tasty picnic events at schools across London, on Friday 20th June 2014, taking place on the first Grow Your Own Picnic day.The official Food Growing Schools: London launch event, at the inspiring Phoenix High School Farm and Learning Zone, was buzzing with enthusiasm  from local authorities, educational institutions, and public health leaders from across London boroughs. Tucking into a tasty picnic lunch cooked by Ben Tish, Founder and Head Chef of Saltyard Restaurant Group, they listened to an impressive line-up of talks from the Mayor of London’s Food Advisor, Rosie Boycott, Master Chef winner Thomasina Miers, Bill Scott, Professor of Education at the University of Bath and lead partner Garden Organic. Rosie Boycott said; ‘The Mayor and I want to see every school in London growing food. We’ve made huge progress with many pupils in the capital now reaping the rewards of outdoor learning. This new initiative will help us go further, reaching more schools and helping existing growers expand.’

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