Project Learning Garden prepares for first growing season in London

The Project Learning Garden team have been busy recruiting and training schools in Merton, Bexley and Southwark while gearing up for the first growing season of the project in London.

Project Learning Garden provides starter kits to schools with everything they need to start or refresh a food growing garden and use it as an outdoor classroom. Project Learning Garden provides schools with hands-on training, curriculum linked resources, raised beds and gardening tools, a fully equipped mobile cooking cart and ongoing support and guidance.

Despite the snow in March, they held two training sessions to meet with teachers and other school staff to start to work on planning how to link a school garden to their curriculum. The sessions covered curriculum, organic gardening, basic cooking skills and working with groups outside. The team running the workshop were joined by former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins and Master Gardeners in Southwark.

The schools will soon be receiving their ‘kits’ which include a selection of cooking and gardening items as well as raised beds and lots of activities and resources to deliver the curriculum.

Schools also have access to a range of lesson plans and activities which link to environmental themes and subjects across the curriculum.

Delegates at the training session were enthusiastic and went away feeling positive about the whole day and being involved in the project. One delegate said:

‘I really enjoyed the day and found it useful and very helpful’

‘It was good to be reminded how important the soil is in or garden – easy to forget!’

To find out more about PLG visit the Garden Organic website here.

Garden Organic, the UK’s national charity for organic growing & the Captain Planet Foundation (CPF) a charitable organisation based in Atlanta, USA, are working in partnership to bring their successful Project Learning Garden programme to the UK.

Seeds of Change®, who donate 1% of sales to research and promotion of biodiversity and sustainable organic practices, are generously funding this pilot project, making this new partnership possible.

The Farm Project CIC

The Farm Project CIC (Community Interest Company) offers an unusual experience for children and young people through a short-stay residential on a working organic farm in Gloucestershire.

Special Offer

The Farm Project is now offering to fund a visit for a school group of 10 pupils from London who have never had the opportunity to visit the farm before (open to pupils from year 5 up to 6th form).

To take advantage of this generous offer, or to find out more, please contact Maya at hello@thefarm.education or visit their website Contact Us page.

Why visit a farm?

Many farms are open to the community and specifically cater for educational experiences for children and young adults. When farms host visits in this way, children from urban centres especially benefit from taking a hands on approach to learning about food. It’s an opportunity to dispel myths and misconceptions while gaining a new perspective and connection to food and how food is produced. This translates to making healthier food choices, such as trying and eating more fruit and veg. It can also inspire them to grow their own at home or in the school garden, which in turn gives them a deeper appreciation of the value of food while getting them involved in a more active lifestyle outdoors.

What do they do on a farm?

Whilst at The Farm Project children and young people gain a deep understanding of where food comes from through hands-on growing, harvesting, cooking and eating. They care for the animals, collect eggs, feed the pigs, milk the cows and feed the calves. They spend time in the woods chopping wood and building fires and an awareness and appreciation for the natural world.

Learning outside a traditional classroom offers exciting and invaluable opportunities for personal development. Confidence and self-esteem grow and communication and teamwork strengthen as children and young people face new experiences and challenges far from their everyday lives.

The nurturing environment encourages positive relationships to be built between individuals and gives a general sense of wellbeing. The experience provides an opportunity for developing new skills and qualities which can be taken back into homes, schools and communities.

A Visible Difference

“We saw visible differences in the students as their time on the farm progressed. We saw growth in confidence, and an improvement in social skills. The children bonded together with both their room partners and their working groups and the farm activities allowed for invaluable opportunities for team work. They showed amazing perseverance, which was rewarded with success, and a lot of fun and laughter.” Teacher, London

About the farm

Run by managing partners Will and Hilary Chester-Master, Abbey Home Farm is a 650 hectare organic mixed farm.

Abbey Home Farm is committed to organic practices and passionate about connecting the local community – especially children and young people – with the food they eat.

With their team Will and Hilary have been hosting educational day visits for over 20 years.

In July 2015 The Farm Project CIC was established at Abbey Home Farm. Having hosted a handful of visits through the Soil Association’s ‘Farm Academy’ programme in 2012/13, they realised what an impact a residential stay could have.

The Farm Project hosts up to one week long residential visits for children and young people from all walks of life, between the months of March and November.

Find out more about how you could bring your school group by visiting their website http://www.thefarm.education/bring-a-group/

Before I came to The Farm, I never used to try or eat any food that maybe didn’t look nice or I thought I was going to hate. However, I couldn’t starve all week, so whenever I gave the dishes a try, I always seemed to like it. This trip has definitely developed my taste buds a lot. Not only had we been enjoying ourselves, but we were using our ordinary classroom subjects to help us with our jobs. I have learnt that we might think our school subjects are boring, but we need them in real life, so that’s why teachers should organise trips like this

Deniz, 11

Fantastic news for Food Growing Schools: London!

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 2016, at a Food Growing Schools: London Schools Marketplace. Trafalgar Infants School, Richmond. Jane Baker/Garden Organic

New funding secured to continue

We are delighted to announce plans to build on the fantastic achievements of Food Growing Schools: London by continuing to promote food growing in London schools.

For the past three years, Garden Organic has been leading the Food Growing Schools: London partnership (funded by the Big Lottery Fund), working with the Mayor of London, Capital Growth, the Soil Association’s Food For Life project, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), School Food Matters and Trees for Cities.

Due to end in March this year, Food Growing Schools: London has achieved remarkable results helping to promote and support food growing, healthy eating and sustainability in schools across London. Now, thanks to financial support from a major donor, Garden Organic is thrilled to be able to build on the successes and learning of this project for a further 12 months.

Chris Collins, Head of Organic Horticulture at Garden Organic and former Blue Peter Gardener, is thrilled that this project will continue: “It’s such an uplifting piece of news – Garden Organic has made great strides in the past three years, highlighting and supporting the fundamental importance of organic food growing in schools.” He commented. “Understanding the process from seed to plate is a life skill, and the hard work of those involved in the Food Growing Schools: London project has made great leaps in educating the next generation. However the work is far from done; we have set off on the road and it is superb news that continued funding enables us to carry on this positive work.”

Garden Organic’s Head of Education, Colette Bond has been involved in the project since its inception. “Garden Organic has, for decades, been involved in encouraging children to grow food. We know that something as simple as growing fruit and veg organically can have a life-changing impact on children.” She commented. “A large number of London pupils have never been exposed to food growing. We’re delighted with the impact the Food Growing Schools: London project has had so far, and to now have the opportunity to continue this work.”

This support will allow Garden Organic to evolve the project over a 12 month period; to enhance the most successful elements so that even more schools embrace food growing and enjoy the life-changing benefits it has been proven to bring.

The Food Growing Schools: London website has information and downloadable resources for schools interested in accessing the support offered. Alternatively, to discuss the project further, or to talk through specific requirements, please contact education@gardenorganic.org.uk.

About the project

Food Growing Schools: London, launched in 2013, was established to increase the number of London schools growing food. Through a combination of hands on support, teacher training, termly growing activities and regular events, the project has delivered impressive achievements. An independent review of Food Growing Schools: London reported that 87% of London schools surveyed are now involved in growing, with 1 in 4 linking food growing directly to the curriculum. This take up of food growing activities has led to a significant increase in pupils being more aware of healthy eating and sustainability – enabling them to start making healthy life choices from an early age.

The independent external evaluation of the project, completed in 2016 by the University of the West of England, is available to download here.

Outdoor Learning Conference – Rhyl Primary, Camden

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Fancy a brilliant day of workshops on topics around outdoor learning, school gardening and edible education?

Rhyl Primary School in Camden is hosting their fourth annual Outdoor Learning Conference on Wednesday April 26th, 9:30-3pm. Workshops include Forest School, inspiring maths and writing outdoors, garden design, embedding in school curriculum and guest speakers from the trailblazing Natural Connections Project.

Price is only £60, which includes three workshops and lunch / pizza from our wood fired oven. The school band will perform during lunch. Any profits from the event to the Rhyl Kitchen Classroom project.

Capital Growth spaces can claim a 10% early bird discount if they book before March 1st. Please quote your Capital Growth space number.

To reserve your place, please email: admin@rhylprim.camden.sch.uk or telephone: 020 7485 4899. For more info:
www.outdoorclassrooms.wordpress.com

Feedback from previous years:

“Really inspiring and helpful. Lovely and passionate facilitators and teachers.” Halstow School

“… it was exceptional value.” Gillespie Primary

“Thanks for fantastic day.” Lancs Primary