Food Growing Schools: London Southwark Forum

27 April 2016

Food Growing Schools: London are inviting schools in Southwark interested in food growing projects, to a ‘Forum’ at John Ruskin Primary School, John Ruskin Street, Camberwell, SE5 0PQ on Tuesday 24th May from 3.30 to 5.30pm.
These Forums are a chance to gain inspiration and ideas from another food growing school, share ideas and learn something new through a seasonal activity run by Food Growing Schools: London.

We would also like these forums to act as a swap shop, so please bring along and seeds, plants, tools and educational resources you would either like to share, give away or swap with other schools. These forum meetings are open to anyone from Southwark schools involved in or wishing to develop a food growing project, staff, parents, volunteers…

Please contact Paul Sadler at to confirm you would like to attend.







TV gardener Chris Collins announces food growing target for London’s green fingered kids

21 March 2016

We are delighted to report that Chris Collins, best known as the former TV Blue Peter gardener, joined us as a special guest for the first ever Food Growing Schools: London conference last week.

The event took place at Argyle School in Camden and was one of two schools conferences this spring that bring teachers and schools from across London together, with the aim of inspiring and supporting them to become food growing schools.

Chris Collins is a long-standing ambassador of Garden Organic, and a big supporter of Food Growing Schools: London. His inspirational opening speech took the audience through his impressive career spanning 30 years and including lots more than Blue Peter as he’s worked extensively in Africa, at Kew Gardens and Westminster Abbey too.

Chris used the conference as an opportunity to announce that the original target for London’s biggest food growing count, the ‘Growathon’ has been met. It is estimated that over 10,000 London pupils are now involved in growing food at school, with the number climbing by the week.

Having already beaten this target, we are now setting the ambitious aim of reaching 50,000 school pupils by the end of the Summer.

FGSL News December 2015

23 December 2015

We are recruiting! – Food Growing Schools: London – Project Manager

Location: London (Sustain Offices, Old Street)
Salary: £36,000
Hours: 35 Holiday Entitlement: 25 days

We are looking for an enthusiastic individual with experience and an excellent track record in project management and partnership working, bid writing and a good knowledge of relevant activity and stakeholders in London. The person will join our team to offer project management to deliver the main project objective of supporting all schools in London to become food growing schools.

Application Closing Date: Sunday, 10 January 2016
Interview Date: Tuesday, 19 January 2016

For more information and to apply visit the Garden Organic website: Vacancies

Friday 18 December 2015

London Councils show leadership on school food

  • 31 out of 33 London boroughs are doing more to improve the food available to their residents, workers and school pupils
  • More London councils than ever are serving sustainable fish; higher welfare meat, eggs and dairy; Fairtrade products; and organic and freshly prepared food in schools
  • Many are tackling food poverty by encouraging breastfeeding to ensure the best start in life for infants, and also paying the Living Wage to Council staff and contractors
  • Increased support is being shown for food growing in the community and in schools.

The results of an annual survey of food initiatives supported by London Councils were published today by campaigning network London Food Link. The ‘Good Food For London’ report [1], supported by the Mayor of London and partner food and farming organisations [2], is now in its fifth year, measuring progress and encouraging local councils to take action on good food.

Rosie Boycott, chair of the London Food Board [3], said: “It is heartening to see so many of London’s councils taking action on good food initiatives. Our local authorities are very much on the front line when it comes to improving the diets of Londoners and while they are doing a fantastic job, I hope that they will continue to find new and innovative ways to tackle obesity and promote healthy eating.”

Despite the improvements, London continues to have higher rates of obesity compared to the rest of England, in part reflecting the proliferation of unhealthy food offers on our high streets.  With new food ventures opening daily, many of which do not serve or promote healthy food and often located in poorer areas, people find themselves faced with an unhealthy food environment.

“Councils have great scope to influence the food served in their borough. While many are doing great work to improve school food, this is not the case the moment children step outside the school gates. We need more done to tackle the quality of high-street food”, explained Sofia Parente from London Food Link.  The ‘Healthier Catering Commitment’ is a first step to help local authorities improve food in high-street takeaways, but despite its importance the report found sign-up to the scheme had slowed this year.

The Good Food for London league table 2015 is topped by the London Boroughs of Greenwich, Islington and Tower Hamlets. In addition, four boroughs were recognised for having been consistently in the top five since results started to be compiled in a league table two years ago: Camden, Islington, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets. Eight boroughs were also celebrated for being ‘most improved’, demonstrating change is possible even in a short period of time: Barking & Dagenham, City of London, Croydon, Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Wandsworth and Westminster.

Full report, Good Food for London 2015: View our online interactive Good Food for London league table 2015 and download the report

14 December 2015

Good Luck Tim!

British ESA Astronaut, Tim Peake, flies to the International Space Station tomorrowSamantha Cristoforetti, Andreas Mogensen, Timothy Peak, Thomas Pesquier.

Tomorrow at 11:02am, British European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) for his six-month Principia mission.

Tim is launching on a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur, Kazakhstan which was rolled out onto the launch pad yesterday – watch here. Tim and the crew are due to rendezvous with the ISS at 5:23pm before climbing on-board to their new home at 7pm.

You can watch Tim’s launch on a very special episode of Stargazing Live tomorrow at 10:30am on BBC One. There will then be a second evening Stargazing Live programme at 7pm on BBC Two showing Tim’s arrival on the ISS.

Tim is an inspirational role model for young people across the UK and is dedicated to encouraging children to engage with STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. It is because of this, we partnered with the UK Space Agency several months ago to launch Rocket Science, an exciting project allowing schools to grow seeds that have been to space.

In September we sent 2kg of rocket seeds to the International Space Station and they will be stored there until March when they are due to come back to Earth with American astronaut Scott Kelly.

When the seeds return, we will send them to up to 10,000 schools to grow alongside seeds that haven’t been to space in a huge nationwide science experiment. Read more about the project and sign up to take part here. We will be accepting applications until March when the seeds return to Earth.

Tomorrow we will be exhibiting at the Science Museum in London and Edinburgh International Science Festival in Scotland along with a host of other organisations that are running educational projects to celebrate Tim’s mission. You can read more about these projects at the UK Space Agency’s brilliant Principia website here.

If you’re on Twitter, keep in touch with us and involved in the launch by using #RocketScience and #Principia.

You can also tweet Tim Peake himself using @astro_timpeake

Good Luck Tim!

RHS Campaign for School Gardening

11 December 2015

Young Photographers Awarded Prizes

RHSphotocomp_TheoHardingRolls_FGSL news 2015London students Theo and Indra were presented with their prizes for winning this year’s RHS Young Herb Photographer of the Year.

Over the last couple of weeks we visited this year’s winners of RHS Young Herb Photographer of the Year to present them with their prizes.

Winner of the 5 to 10 age category was Indra, 8 years old from 11th Newham West Scout Group in Stratford, London for his beautiful image of borage (Borago officinalis). The photograph, which was taken in the Peak District, was chosen by the judges for its exquisite detail, clarity and colour.

Winner of the 11 to 17 age category was Theo, 11 years old from Thomas’s Clapham School, London for his stunning photograph of rosemary (Rosmarinus). The photo showed a sprig of rosemary in the sun and rain and judges loved the dramatic contrast of the soft raindrops against the dark background.

Alana Tapsell from the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and Chris Moncrieff from Vitacress visited both Indra and Theo to present them with their prizes of an iPad Mini for themselves and £500 worth of horticultural materials for their school or group.

You can see the photos from the presentations and the winning photographs below.

Congratulations Indra and Theo!

To read more about the competition, click here.
To see the winners, runners up and finalists, click here.



FGSL News November 2015

New Zealand oca tubers. Photo: Garden Organic

Time to harvest your oca!

Schools Oca Growing Experiment update

In Spring 2015, as part of our Grow Around the World project 70 London schools joined our school’s experiment to see if oca could rival the potato on their school dinner tables! For those of your who were lucky enough to order your oca, we hope you have had fun growing them. You should now be thinking about harvesting your oca plants.

The recent frosts may have caused the leaves of your oca plants to have wilted and died. Don’t panic as the frost was only short lived and should not have damaged the tubers in the ground but try to get them dug up in the next couple of weeks.

If you haven’t been affected by the frost
Your plants may still be growing and the leaves will still look fresh. If you want to harvest the tubers now you could just ‘lift’ one plant to see how large the tubers have become. Don’t be disappointed by their size, if you remember when you planted them how small they were.

Oca for your Christmas dinner!
If your plants are still growing you may wish to leave the plants until December, as we mentioned in our November schools e-newsletter, and then you could add them to you school Christmas dinner as a ‘roast potato’ alternative! You can sign up to our free schools e-newsletter here.

Harvesting your oca
To harvest the oca tubers use a garden fork to lift up the whole plant similar to how you would harvest potatoes.

Record your crop – as part of the School Growing Experiment
Whatever the result please take some photos of your crop and PLEASE fill in the results form and send them back to us (Experiment Form). This gives Garden Organic very valuable information about how well oca’s grow in our climate, contributes to people science, and is great for student learning. Please send your completed oca growing experiment form, oca recipes, photos and drawings to us by Thursday 17th December 2015.

Growing oca again next year
If you would like to grow some oca again next year keep a few of your best tubers to plant in late March as you did this year. Keep as many tubers as you want plants or have space for. Using the best tubers you have harvested will ensure your crops improve year on year. Make sure the tubers you keep are dry, put them in a paper bag and store in a cool dry environment, NOT in your classroom as this will be too hot. An outdoor shed or unheated storeroom should be fine.

E-newsletterspecial: Time to harvest your oca! (Nov 2015).

24 November 2015

Food Flagships – November 2015 update

GLA Food Programme – The Food Flagships boroughs are making great progress with all the projects up and running. Additional work areas are also progressing. The School Garden Grants programme  – a partnership between the Mayor of London and Whole Kids Foundation was launched in October and is offering edible garden grants to schools in the flagship boroughs. On 11th November 2015, the first Edible walking route in London was launched in Clapham Common. This is an exciting partnership between Incredible Edible Lambeth, Food Growing Schools London (Garden Organic) and Incredible Edible Todmorden and the aim of the route is to bring  together those who are passionate about local food in and around Clapham Common including schools, Lambeth College, the Business Improvement District, and others. We are hoping to see this community-led initiative replicated in other areas. For more information about the Food Flagships visit: Community – Local Authority

16 Nov 2015

School Food Matters are recruiting!

Intern – Corporate Fundraising

School Food Matters is looking for an intern to research and identify new corporate funding opportunities for a range of food education programmes. This is a freelance contract funded by Santander and it provides an excellent opportunity to contribute to the growth and financial stability of a small but influential charity. The internship is paid and the successful applicant could work from home or at our office in SW14. The hours are flexible and the term of this contract is negotiable.

It is important for applicants to have experience of the corporate world, an understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility and an interest in fundraising. Work on this project will begin in January. Please click here to find out more and to download the Job Description and application instructions, or forward this email to anyone you think might be interested. All applications must be received by 5pm on Friday 4 December with interviews taking place on Friday 11 December.

Note: School Food Matters is committed to employing the best staff for a given post and ensuring that all staff are recruited on merit. We will endeavour to make new opportunities available to a wide variety of eligible candidates to promote diversity and equality of opportunity.

5 November 2015

Trees for Cities are recruiting!

Edible Playgrounds Development Coordinator (Maternity cover)

Location: London, UK
Salary: £22,000 per annum pro rata

Trees for Cities is an independent charity that works with local people to transform urban spaces in cities across the UK and overseas. We work with local communities and partners to plant trees and green cities through urban woodland, neighbourhood tree, and edible playground projects.

This is an exciting opportunity for a highly-motivated, confident individual to join our Development Team through our Edible Playgrounds programme.

Reporting to the Development Director, you will be responsible for developing edible playground projects in schools in London and other UK cities; and for raising corporate income for our edible playground programme. The role involves working with schools, partners, businesses, and Trees for Cities delivery team.

We seek someone with experience in corporate fundraising and experience of developing projects, together with strong organisational, inter-personal and communication skills.

This is a full-time maternity cover position based in Kennington, London SE11.

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

Trees for Cities is the only charity working on a global scale focussed on planting urban trees.  We work in 25 cities across the UK and overseas to transform outdoor spaces through planting trees.  We are a game-changing, ambitious organisation which sets the standard for urban tree planting.

The sort of person we’re looking for.

  • An individual with the relevant skills and experience
  • Attention to detail
  • Works well on own and as part of two teams, gets a buzz from team achievement
  • A positive, “can-do” attitude, hardworking and dedicated
  • Passion, integrity and energy
  • Responsive to a fast paced organisation

Closing date to apply: 9am on Monday 23 November 2015
Interviews: week commencing Monday 30 November 2015

Visit the Trees for Cities website for information on how to apply, a for a full job description, application form and equal opportunities monitoring form: Trees for Cities.


FGSL News October 2015

29 October 2015

Universal Infant Free School Meals

A huge thank you to all of you for supporting the campaign to save UIFSM! Today during Prime Minister’s Questions David Cameron announced that Universal Infant Free School Meals were safe.  Talking about the policy, the PM said “I’m proud of what we’ve done and we’ll be keeping it”. You can watch it all happen here. The announcement was prompted by a question from Sharon Hodgson MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on school food, who asked whether the PM would go down in history as “Dave the Dinner Snatcher”. Thankfully he will not and has honoured his manifesto promise … I suspect with a little nudge from all of you who signed our petition. Thank you!

School Food Matters

26 October 2015

We’re Recruiting!

Communications Officer – Food Growing Schools: London (Maternity cover)

Location: Old Street, London & home based with regular travel to Coventry
Salary: £25,375 pro rata
Hours: 28 hours per week

This is a fantastic opportunity to be involved in this inspiring, London-wide project. We are looking for an enthusiastic individual who has experience and a proven track record of working in communications & PR. We want someone with an excellent knowledge of a range of communications channels including PR, Media, Web and Social Media and with a good understanding of & press contacts within the London region. The person will join our team to offer maternity cover and deliver the communications strategy to facilitate the main project objective of supporting all schools in London to become food growing schools.

Application Closing Date: Monday, 16 November 2015
Interview Date: Tuesday, 24 November 2015

For more information and to apply visit Garden Organic.

13 October 2015

Growathon – Ready. Set. Grow!

Growathon logo

The challenge is on. Growathon, a new initiative aiming to be the biggest London school food growing campaign of the coming year, has been launched by the Food Growing Schools: London partnership (FGSL). With the aim of reaching 10,000 London students growing food in our city by Summer 2016, students from every London borough are being set the challenge to  grow one thing, feed their city, and tell a friend today!

The new Growathon website enables schools, students and growing organisations to share their food growing activities on the Growathon Carrot Totaliser and watch as the numbers increase!

From classroom windowsill growers to urban school farms, and schools wishing to try growing food for the first time, every school in London is welcome to get involved. Activities such as workshops, lessons, assemblies, events, class projects and school farm visits will all be included. And schools will be able to advertise public growing events on the website to invite other young people to come along.

Grassroots growing, educational and environmental organisations such as community gardens, are also being encouraged to support schools to meet the challenge, proving that together there is a real hunger for healthy, local food in our communities, starting with young people.

Colette Bond, Head of Education at Garden Organic said:

Since early 2014 Garden Organic has been proud to lead the Food Growing Schools: London partnership towards achieving the ambitious aim to see every school in London growing food. Growathon is a new initiative that recognises each and every one of our partner’s hard work and dedication to collectively reaching this goal, through their unique and inspiring school growing activities, events, resources and training”.

“Now there’s  the chance for schools and community organisations in every London Borough to celebrate what they are doing too – and together reach our target of 10,000 students growing food by Summer 2016!”

FGSL partner activities include: Garden Organic’s Give it a Grow campaign, Capital Growth’s Harvestometer, the new Soil Association Food for Life Award Scheme, Morrisons’ Academy of Food, RHS Campaign for School Gardening workshops for teachers, School Food Matters’ Schools to Market (Whole Foods) and Young Marketeers (Borough Market) programmes and Trees for Cities’ Edible Playgrounds.

Garden Organic’s Give it a Grow initiative is an ideal opportunity for individuals, schools and the wider community to get started. Anyone can grow their own food, even on a small scale. All you need is: just one pot, some compost (preferably peat free and organic) and some seeds. Garden Organic have suggested some plants that are simple to grow, delicious to eat, and will grow happily and healthily in your pot. Browse through the cards, pick your favourite from the list and see how you go. To make your pledge today, visit:

The hugely popular Schools Marketplace is also back, on Thursday 15 October 2015 with the Mayor of London’s Food team opening the doors of the prestigious City Hall to the public one again. From strawberry jam to tomato ketchup, and the great British apple to winter salad bags – young entrepreneurs are bringing harvest time to the city. On the day participating schools will be entered in to the Schools Marketplace Competition, to win prizes awarded by Abel and Cole, the organic home delivery service and box scheme. Categories include: Best enterprising product, Best stall and People’s choice (by public vote).

The Schools Marketplace takes place on Thursday 15th October 2015 from 12 – 3pm at City Hall, The Queen’s Walk London SE1 2AA. It is organised by Garden Organic and Capital Growth as part of Grow Your Own Business, a city-wide celebration of school food growing, enterprise and learning: To get a flavour of previous events visit:

A Growathon Forum event will take place in Spring 2016, for schools and growing organisations. This occasion will build on the success of Growathon so far, connecting with Food Growing Schools: London partnership organisations, and cementing relationships with food growing networks in London Boroughs to support schools locally.

16 October 2015

Mayor and Whole Kids Foundation help tackle child obesity with £42,000 for schools to grow their own food

  • Lambeth and Croydon schools eligible to apply for share of £42,000 School Garden Grant
  • Mayor has partnered with Whole Kids Foundation to pilot the programme in the UK

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, today confirmed details of a £42,000 funding pot that will allow schools in Lambeth and Croydon to grow their own food as part of his ongoing drive to tackle obesity in the capital and get young Londoners eating more healthily. Today’s announcement comes on World Food Day as Rosie Boycott, Chair of London, joins UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other influential leaders at the Milan Expo to discuss the challenge of sustainably eradicating hunger and poverty over the next 15 years.

10.8 per cent of London’s children are already dangerously obese when they start primary school and by age 11, one in five are obese. Poor diet is linked to further complications later in life, ranging from Type 2 diabetes to cancer whilst the cost to health budgets has been estimated at £5 billion a year currently and is rising.

The School Garden Grants scheme will give state funded schools in both boroughs the chance to apply for grants ranging between £300 and £3,000 to create or improve edible gardens, which will be used to educate children about the food they eat and help them to lead healthier lives.

Lambeth and Croydon were both selected by the Mayor to be Food Flagship Boroughs last year, working to tackle child obesity through better diets and food education. In a UK first, the boroughs are making changes to the way food is served in schools, hospitals, and – working with major supermarkets and other retailers – on the high street. The aim is to show that joined up thinking can improve health and academic attainment of pupils and also of adults in the local communities they serve.

The Mayor has teamed up with Whole Kids Foundation to deliver the School Garden Grants scheme. Whole Kids Foundation – the charitable arm of Whole Foods Market – has run the scheme in the US and Canada for five years, with impressive results. Their work there has funded 3,014 school gardens, trained 8,438 teachers and served 3.796,922 students. By encouraging children to plant, nurture, harvest, cook and eat food they have grown themselves, the pilot scheme in London will help them to foster a love of good food and increase understanding of how diet impacts on health.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: “I am delighted to be working with Whole Kids Foundation to introduce this innovative scheme into Croydon and Lambeth schools as the boroughs continue their great work to improve diets and attitudes to food.”

“As our city grows, it’s vital we equip our kids with the all the skills they need to not only get a job but to see them lead a happy and healthier life. Of course, growing their own food will do this, with the added benefit of helping to trim the multi-billion pound burden on the taxpayer that stems from unhealthy eating and poor food related illness.”

The scheme will consider requests ranging from tools to training, equipment to part-funding a school gardener until the application process closes on 4 December 2015.

Benjamin Woodgate from Whole Kids Foundation said: “Helping kids learn to love fresh, nutritious, whole foods is our number one priority and we know that given the right opportunities, kids will get excited about fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other nutritious whole foods. We are delighted to have partnered with the Mayor of London to deliver Garden Grants to local school – together we are growing healthy kids.”

As well as work in schools, the two Food Flagship Boroughs are demonstrating the transformational impact on health and attainment achievable through improving food across the whole environment.

Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food, said: “School Garden Grants are a great way to harness the enthusiasm of teachers, children and parents toward eating more fruit, vegetables and quality, affordable food.

“Eating well helps not only to avoid health problems now and in the future, but has been shown to be a key ingredient to classroom success. Good, nutritious food help to keep children alert during school time and to sustain them throughout the day.”

For more information go to

12 October 2015

Rockmount Primary take their food growing to the next level

tfc_edible_playgrounds_FGSL news 2015Pupils at Rockmount Primary School in Croydon will have the opportunity to take their growing to the next level.  The charity Trees for Cities has started work to create an Edible Playground which will be launched next Spring/Summer 2016.

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, Edible Playgrounds 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.

The edible playground will be designed specifically for the school, to include raised beds for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs and fruit trees will be planted along with climbing plants such as honeysuckle and blackberries. Pupils will enjoy planting and harvesting workshops throughout the year, and teachers will receive support to teach outdoors through gardening.

The school has already appointed caterers with a focus on high quality, nutritious and freshly prepared meals and  improved the aesthetics of the dining hall, introducing polka dot tablecloths, flowers and soft music and promoted the whole social experience of eating together.

They then moved on to growing some of their own vegetables such as sprouts and chard on school grounds to contribute to school lunches  Having been awarded Lead Food Flagship status an Edible Playground will really help the pupils and school to take their food growing to the next level. Through this project, growing and eating healthy foods will become an integral part of the school curriculum and the school experience.

“As educators we have a huge responsibility to lead our children and support them to make the right choices to achieve healthy lifestyles” Said Helen Carval and Tracey Langridge, Head Teachers at Rockmount Primary School. “Through our engagement with Trees for Cities as a Lead Food Flagship project, we have been able to develop our food, crop growing and gardening initiatives. We are very conscious of the link between nutrition, health and academic performance. The project has been eagerly embraced and we are very excited about the wide range of learning opportunities this opens up for the whole school community”.

Kate Sheldon, Acting Chief Executive of Trees for Cities said: “’With increasing concerns around food poverty, obesity and malnutrition, the next generation is in danger of losing touch with nature and not knowing why a healthy diet is important.  Edible Playgrounds show children how rewarding it is to spend time outdoors and get them excited about where their food comes from”.

TfC’s technical expertise in the delivery of Edible Playgrounds and operations is well established and highly regarded. The first Edible Playground was created in 2003. There are currently over 25 Edible Playgrounds in the UK with a further 50 to be rolled out over the next three years.

This project has been supported by the Mayor of London Food Flagship Programme, Marsh and City Bridge Trust.


  • 33% of UK primary school pupils believe pasta is made from meat
  • 10% believe potatoes grow on trees
  • 33% think that cheese comes from plants
  • 25% think fish fingers come from chicken or pigs
  • survey of 27,500 pupils from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF)

Startling Stats

  • 1 in 5 children in the UK are already overweight or obese by the age of five
  • 1 in 3 children are affected by child obesity by the age of 11
  • 4 in 5 children aged five to 15 fail to consume the recommended five portions of fruits and vegetables per day
  • 37 % of children between ages of 5 – 12 do not eat enough every day
  • In 2013 over 95% of teachers reported that they had pupils coming to school hungry
  • More than 40% of teachers surveyed reported giving food to pupils at their own expense on a monthly basis
  • Food Poverty – The London Assembly Health and Environment Committee report (2013)96,997 children received support  from a Food Bank last financial year –



FGSL News September 2015

29 September 2015

Rose Vouchers for Fruit & Veg launched at Brixton Market

The Mayor of London’s food advisor Rosie Boycott joined traders and local families at Brixton Market today to celebrate the launch of a brand new healthy eating initiative.

The Rose Vouchers for Fruit & Veg project was set up by Alexandra Rose Charities in partnership with Food Matters with the aim of promoting healthy eating and combating food poverty by giving families vouchers that can be redeemed for fresh fruit and vegetables at local markets.

The project will support 100 families with the provision of Rose Vouchers that can be redeemed at participating traders at Brixton Market and in West Norwood. Working in partnership with local children’s centres, the aim of the project is to work with families with young children who are living on low incomes. The children’s centres will identify families who could benefit most from the scheme as well as providing support such as cooking classes to build their skills and confidence.

Rose Vouchers supports families to adopt healthier lifestyles in the crucial years before school starts. An evaluation undertaken by independent researchers, shows the intervention is effective in increasing uptake and variety of fruit and vegetables in both children and their parents.*

Jonathan Pauling, Chief Executive of Alexandra Rose Charities, said: “All evidence suggests the first three years of a child’s life are the most important in setting their future life chances. Rose Vouchers give families the financial power in their pockets to give their children the healthiest start in life.”

The project runs in partnership with Lambeth Council’s Food Flagship scheme; part of a wider initiative to make Lambeth’s food culture healthier and more sustainable. The Food Flagship project, funded by the Mayor of London and the Department of Education, aims to roll-out the good work happening around school food to the wider community. Lambeth will launch a range of initiatives to get residents eating healthier, more nutritious food over the next two years.

Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food, said: “The Mayor set up the London Food Board to help improve Londoners’ access to healthy, locally produced and affordable food. By supporting Lambeth as a Food Flagship borough, the Mayor hopes to foster a love of good, healthy and nutritious produce in children and families that will involve the whole community.

For more information contact: Chief Executive – Jonathan Pauling 07977068655,

* A full copy of the evaluation can be found at:

Download the full press release

28 September 2015

Universal Infant Free School Meals – update

see 21 Sept 2015 below for more information

Please click here to sign our petition and show your support for this policy!

Huge thanks to all of you who signed the petition to save UIFSM! We’ve now got over 32,000 signatures and lots of press interest in the campaign. Please enjoy this BBC News piece featuring our friends at Lowther Primary School.

We’ve had encouraging news this morning in the form of a Sky News piece reporting that David Cameron has pledged his support for UIFSM! We’re working hard to make this a reality but you can help by continuing to add your names to the petition and getting this news out to your network.

Contributed by School Food Matters.

25 September 2015

Local food producers and community heros crowned at inaugural Urban Food Awards

Urban Food Awards 2015. Judges and Winners. Miles Willis
Urban Food Awards 2015. Judges and Winners. Credit: Miles Willis.

New Shoots Food Guru leads the way to a better future for young people. The victorious group of locally based producers and food heros were crowned top of their individual categories at an awards bash at London’s world famous Borough Market last night (Thursday 24 September). Four other producers were also recognised for their outstanding contributions to London’s food scene.


Organised by City Hall and London Food Link in a bid to root out the best of the city’s local larder, the Urban Food Awards is a celebration of the very best food and drink produced by companies with 50 employees or fewer in the capital.

Following nominations from Londoners, the winners were chosen by a judging panel, chaired by London Food Board chair Rosie Boycott, which included chefs Rowley Leigh and Ollie Rowe, while The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, joined to help judge the cheese category.

The Mayor said: “I congratulate all the winners and those nominated for what has been a hugely successful competition. What it unquestionably shows is when it comes to top notch grub and high quality beer, nobody does it quite like London.”

Leading the way to a better future

The Urban Food Awards was also open to enterprises, organisations and individuals leading the way to a better food future. In particular the Food Growing Schools: London partnership would like to say a huge congratulations to Dee Laverty who won the New Shoots Food Guru: category for her dedication to working with young people doing cooking and food growing activities through the Broadwaters Inclusive Learning Community in Tottenham.  Additional award categories included:

  • New Shoots Food Guru: A person showing passion and brilliance in passing on cooking or food growing skills to children and other young people.
  • Food Hero: The cook, campaigner, retailer, whatever, who is leading the way towards better food for London.
  • Capital Growth’s Growing Enterprise: A community food garden becoming more self-sufficient with a scheme that shows money can grow on trees.
  • London Markets Initiative Krys Zasada Memorial Award: This year’s best activity to ensure one or more London markets will survive and thrive.

The Urban Food Awards is funded by Seeds of Change and the Mayor of London and delivered by the Plunkett Foundation and London Food Link, with the aim of helping social enterprises and privately-owned business to become more sustainable, while encouraging Londoners to buy locally grown food.

Download a full press release here.

21 September 2015

Keep Universal Infant Free School Meals in schools in England

Petition_FGSL news 2015

In September 2014 the government introduced UIFSM in schools in England. There have recently been a number of reports in the media that the government are considering scrapping UIFSM to save money.
We are calling on the government to back UIFSM and not scrap it.

Sign the petition here:

More information

In July 2013 the School Food Plan recommended to the coalition government that they introduce universal infant free school meals.

Evidence from pilot projects showed that while all children benefit from free school meals, the low-income children benefit the most. Nutritional intake improved dramatically and, academically, children at these schools quickly moved ahead of their peers elsewhere by almost a term. That’s why we applauded the government for having the vision to provide infants with free meals.

We need your help!

Having given schools over £175m to improve their kitchens, and encouraged the school workforce to make substantial changes to put it all in place, we believe the government is considering axing this ground-breaking policy.

We need your help to ensure the government honours its manifesto pledge and keeps universal infant free school meals. Please click here to sign our petition and show your support for the policy.

Why it matters

We need to protect this policy as it is not just children’s behaviour and attainment in school that benefits from UIFSM; health experts say it is a fundamental component of a wider child obesity strategy. It changes eating habits and improves children’s diet; packed lunches have on average three teaspoons more sugar than a school lunch and only 1% meet school food standards. It’s a fact that while 10% of children enter primary school obese, 20% leave obese, and diet-related illnesses cost the NHS £10 billion every year.

David Cameron acknowledged this distressing trend in July and said preventative health was key to improving the health of the nation. Taking away UIFSM is going to make the task of tackling obesity a great deal harder.

We also believe there is a strong economic case for keeping UIFSM. It stimulates the local economy with job creation in schools and catering companies, it saves parents £400 a year which can be spent elsewhere and brings wider benefits to the British food and farming supply chain.
Let your voice be heard

We need your help to ensure the government honours its manifesto pledge and keeps universal infant free school meals. Click here to sign our petition and add your name to the ever-growing list of voters who value this policy!

Thank you.

14 September 2015

The Food for Life programme is changing

Taken from the Soil Association Food for Life blog.

Over the summer we have been busy refreshing our offer to schools to reflect that Ofsted now expects pupils “to be able to make informed choices about healthy eating” and will look for evidence of this both within and outside of the classroom.

We have already been in touch with all our schools not funded by a local authority* to advise that from early October 2015, there will be a charge to be part of Food for Life. It may not be schools that have to meet this cost directly, there are a number of funding options available schools might like to consider, covered in our guide.

Previously, Food for Life was able to offer our School Awards programme for free through grant funding (from the Big Lottery Fund) but now that funding has run out, it’s important we build on the success of our work and continue to support schools to establish a positive food culture.

What’s new?

There are now two levels of access to the Schools Programme which are covered by our Food for Life ‘Membership’ package and our ‘Awards’ package. We have a host of new resources, training and webinars to support schools on their Food for Life journey. Every school achieving an award will also receive a site visit from one of our school food experts, giving schools valuable tips on how to demonstrate positive food culture to Ofsted and share their successes with parents and the wider community.

Find out more about each package and possible funding options in our quick guide.

Five reasons to start or continue on your journey with Food for Life:

What happens next?

Due to these changes, for just a few weeks until early October, we are unable to accept new enrolments online. We are no longer awarding schools under our old programme but we will be in touch about how you can go about transferring your existing application over to the new scheme without losing any of your hard work collating criteria evidence.

If you would like to register your interest so you are first to know once our new portal has been launched, please pick up the phone and speak to us on 0117 314 5180 or email

In the meantime, please take time to read our guide and consider which package is right for you.

* Any school in a commissioned area, will be receiving direct communication from their Local Programme Manager to advise what these changes mean for them, if any.

8 September 2015

Sow it. Grow it. Sell it!


JaneBaker_GardenOrganic_FGSL news 2015
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson buys produce from Trafalgar Infant School students at the Schools Marketplace at 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 2015, 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.

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 15th October 2015. Enterprising schools who plan for a bumper crop can apply to be one of only 15 schools to have a free marketplace stall! To get a flavour of previous events visit:

Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food Board, said: “It’s fantastic to see the enthusiasm among teachers, children and parents around growing and eating fresh, healthy food in schools. Involving schoolchildren in growing food helps to foster a love of good, nutritious produce which is why the Mayor is supporting this initiative.”

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. The event is organised with project partner, Capital Growth. The deadline to apply is Monday 5 October 2015, and stalls are limited:

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.

The Autumn term also sees the launch of the big London Growathon. Students all across the city will join 10,000 other young London growers for the biggest school food growing challenge of the year – to feed your city: grow one thing, and tell a friend today! Schools and growing organisations can share their food growing activities on the Growathon website, and watch the numbers of young people involved grow – on the Growathon Totaliser. Ready. Set. Grow! Beginning in October 2015.

5 Sept 2015

We have lift off!

Rocket Science_Soyuz_FGSL news 2015Rocket seeds launched successfully to International Space Station

On Wednesday 02 September, 2kg of rocket seeds were successfully launched into space, bound for their new home aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Watch a video of the launch here.

The seeds departed from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on Soyuz 44S – the flight that also delivered European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen and his crew to the ISS. The rocket and crew docked on Friday and the seeds were unloaded and placed safely on board. They will remain on the ISS for several months and return to Earth with astronaut Scott Kelly, currently planned for March 2016.

The seeds have been send to the ISS as part of Rocket Science, launched by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and the UK Space Agency. In case you haven’t yet signed up or heard of the project, we are giving up to 10,000 schools the chance to grow these seeds in 2016 and compare them with seeds that have remained on Earth. The project will enable young inquisitive minds to think more about how we could preserve human life on another planet in the future.

Official applications for teaching resource packs (suitable for all ages) containing the seeds will open on Monday 14 September 2015 for schools that have pre-registered their interest. Applications will then open for remaining schools on Monday 21 September 2015 if remaining packs are available.

You can still pre-register your interest on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website up until Monday 14 September.

Two teaser resources, a literacy exercise for primary aged pupils and a science activity on genetics for secondary students will be made available soon to download.

Find out more and pre-register your interest in the project here.

We look forward to embarking on this exciting adventure with you. If you have any questions or queries please contact us at

Follow the conversation on Twitter: @RHSSchools #RocketScience

3 September 2015

Jamie Oliver, Sustain and Leon join forces to take action on sugary sweetened drinks and fund children’s food initiatives.

Sustain and Jamie Oliver today launch a petition calling on Government to tax sugary drinks. The Children’s Health Fund is also launched by Jamie and Sustain, with funds coming from a self imposed sugary drinks levy by Jamie’s UK restaurants. Leon are the first group to join Jamie’s UK restaurants in adopting the levy contributing to the Children’s Health Fund.

Jamie Oliver and Sustain have launched a petition calling on the UK government to urgently introduce a sugary drinks tax. If over 100,000 people sign the petition then the Government must consider debating the issue in parliament.The petition can be found here –

Doctors, dentists, dietitians and many other public health experts support a tax of just 7p per regular-sized can (20p per litre) of soft drink with added sugar. This could generate £1 billion per year which Jamie and Sustain believe should be ring-fenced to support much needed preventative work around childhood obesity and diet-related disease, and improving the environment they grow up in [1].

Jamie Oliver commented: “I’ve spoken to some of the brightest people in the medical world over the last few years and they all agree that action is urgently needed if we don’t want the NHS to crumble completely because of the costs of diet-related disease like type-2 diabetes.  One doctor recently told me that diet-related disease is one of the defining crises of our time.  We need the government to step up.”

Following the launch of his documentary Sugar Rush, Jamie and Sustain have also set up a Children’s Health Fund. The aim of the fund is to get restaurants and cafes to volunteer to put a 10p levy on their soft drinks with added sugar. The funds raised from the levy in participating restaurants will go to children’s health and food education initiatives. Jamie’s UK restaurants now all carry the levy, including his 41 strong group, Jamie’s Italian. Naturally fast food chain Leon, which began with a mission to bring good food to the high street, has already signed up, and other restaurants are in final discussions.

John Vincent, Leon co-founder and CEO, explained “Since we started Leon in 2004 we have been helping people eat a diet low in sugar. In that time, we’ve seen people and companies become even more addicted to the white stuff. It’s a human crisis as well as an economic one. I hope Leon is the first of many restaurants to join Jamie in adding a 10p levy to sugary drinks and create this positive change. We’re very interested to hear our customers’ views on whether this is the right way to do so.”

Sugary drinks are often high in calories but of limited nutritional value, and many health experts are increasingly concerned about their contribution to weight gain and type-2 diabetes [2]. Terrifyingly, one third of our kids now leave primary school overweight or obese. Tooth decay is the most common reason that children aged five to nine are admitted to hospital – 26,000 a year for multiple extractions under anaesthetic – and type-2 diabetes is costing the NHS around £9 billion a year [3].

Ben Reynolds, Sustain, added “We want everyone to sign this petition to get Government to take action and introduce this duty on sugary drinks. In the meantime while they are dithering, we are really excited that the restaurant sector is taking the lead, showing that it can be done, and we are pleased to be helping them to set up the Children’s Health Fund to make sure that the money raised will make a difference to children across the UK.”

The government petition can be found at
For more information on the Children’s Health Fund see



FGSL News August 2015

12 August 2015

Breakers Yard Pocket Park

Mayor celebrates delivery of 100 pocket parks across London

A green scheme launched by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to create 100 new pocket parks in the capital has been so successful there are plans to roll it out across the country.

The Mayor has today confirmed he has delivered his manifesto pledge to create 100 rejuvenated spaces as part of his pocket parks programme in 26 London boroughs.

From a rain garden in Vauxhall to a dinosaur playground in Hornsey and edible gardens along a south London bus route, more than 25 hectares of community land across the capital have been converted into new enhanced green areas, thanks to £2million of funding from the Mayor. This was match-funded from the Boroughs, as well as grants from businesses and trusts.

The programme to transform underused urban spaces across the city into mini oases for Londoners to enjoy has been a roaring success and proposals to develop it nationwide are being considered by the government.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “From what started as a green shoot in 2012, dozens of glorious spaces have sprouted up across almost every corner of the capital, offering an oasis of calm from the hustle and bustle of city life.

“They may have been pocket-sized pieces of previously forgotten land, but they pack a real punch in what they now offer local people, thousands of whom have given up their time to make the capital greener and more resilient. It really underlines London’s status as one of the greenest world cities.”

To celebrate the success of the programme, there is a free exhibition at City Hall, which runs to 28 August and shares the stories and experiences of 11 people who helped create pocket park projects across London.

A small area in Churchward House, Lambeth, received funding to install planters to compliment a nearby area planted with street trees, which has dramatically changed an area previously just a walkway between houses.

Jenny Jefferies, of Churchward House in Lambeth who helped on the project, said: “Gardens like these give everyone such a lift and make them feel good. I think there is a basic need to be among green things, people living in cities have fewer opportunities to be among plants, trees and flowers.

“By making more gardens and planted trees, we are increasing everyone’s day to day contact with nature. It is relaxing and important to be in the open air in a garden or park, and it is certainly good for our mental wellbeing.”

Pocket parks are part of the Mayor’s wider plans to maintain London’s status as one of the greenest and leafiest cities. He has also delivered 20,000 Street Trees along London’s most congested roads and funds tree and woodland projects via the Community Grant Scheme, which is engaging communities and volunteers across London. The Mayor leads the RE:LEAF partnership of organisations and through this partnership has delivered a range of projects including planting 10,000 trees in Ealing last December.

8 August 2015

Doing porridge: prison, school and hospital meals put to the test

Can prisoners learn to cook five-star meals? Could a top chef overhaul the canteen at an inner-city London primary? Our restaurant critic gives the food the full review

Marina O’Loughlin reports for the Guardian (Saturday 8 August 2015). Scroll down for section headed ‘Gayhurst community school, London E8’.

The first thing that strikes me as I’m buzzed through the gates of the handsome, red-brick Gayhurst school in Hackney, east London, is the aroma. Walking past a splashily painted planter of herbs, I breathe in the fragrance of garlic and spices – very different from the damp cabbage reek I associate with school dinner halls.

Inside, I’m shown to my seat at the end of a long, communal table under the baleful gaze of an enormous cardboard robot. On the table are boards laden with chopped avocado and cucumber salad, and labneh laced with orange blossom water. “It’s one of my cheffy touches,” admits Nicole Pisani, the former head chef of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Nopi, who caused waves when she left that high-profile gig to take over the school’s canteen. “I love working here and seeing the kids eat our food, but there has to be something in it for me, too.”

Pisani applied for the job following a tweet from Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon and architect of the School Food Plan, saying that his son’s school was in need of a cook. School hours allow Pisani a quality of life – “I get to see my friends!” – and work on other projects in the holidays. But, watching her talking to the children as they clear their plates, it’s obvious she is utterly committed to the job. “I stand by the bins so I can hear what they’re saying,” she says. “But, just as importantly, I can see exactly what they’re eating.”

See full article in the Guardian (Saturday 8 August 2015).

7 August 2015

Filling the holiday gap

Almost a third (31%) of parents on lower incomes have skipped a meal so that their children could eat during the school holidays, according to a new report.

‘Isolation and Hunger: the impact of the school holidays on struggling families’, issued by Kellogs, revealed that more than six out of ten parents with household incomes of less than £25,000 aren’t always able to afford to buy food outside of term time.

For parents with incomes of less than £15,000, that figure rose to a remarkable 73%, while 41% of parents in those low-income families had skipped meals during the holidays.

School holidays are especially difficult for low-income families whose children usually receive free school meals or support from breakfast clubs.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for School Food has produced a framework entitled Filling the Holiday Gap to support the provision of holiday meals. This is intended to support communities with a framework for providing good food as part of holiday learning, play and activity programmes.

Lindsay Graham, Chair of the Holiday Hunger Task Group said:

“We do not yet know the full scale of holiday hunger in the UK, but there are around 1.7million children who are eligible for free school meals who could go without that valuable daily meal this summer.

School holiday periods are an incredibly difficult time for parents on low incomes as limited household budgets are squeezed. Holiday meal programmes that provide a safe environment and fun activities need to be recognised and supported by government policy. No child should be hungry at any time in this country.”

Rob Percival, Food for Life Policy Officer said:

“It’s scandalous that in one of world’s richest nations so many children are not able to eat well. Our government needs to show true leadership on food and inequalities. There can be few areas of public policy where the positive benefits to lives, health and well-being are potentially as radical as they could be in children’s food and nutrition.”

Read original news story on the FFL website.

FGSL News July 2015

21 July 2015

Three Edible Playgrounds get the grow ahead

2000 more children learn about growing and eating healthy food

2000 children from four schools will have the opportunity to get growing thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The charity Trees for Cities will create an Edible Playground at The Palmer Primary Academy in Reading and Baguley Hall Primary School in Manchester whilst Meridian High School and Fairchildes Primary School in Croydon will share an Edible Playground.

The programme is a partnership between Trees for Cities, School Food Matters and Chefs Adopt a School to create 10 flagship Edible Playgrounds in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Reading.

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, Edible Playgrounds 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.

The edible playgrounds will be designed specifically for each school, but elements include raised beds for growing salads, root vegetables, brassicas soft fruits and herbs, fruit trees, a green house and a composting area. Pupils will enjoy planting and harvesting workshops throughout the year, and teachers will receive support to teach outdoors through gardening.

The pupils will enjoy hands-on cooking lessons from Chefs Adopt a School and have access to food education programmes outside the school gate via charity School Food Matter’s Membership for Schools.  School Food Matters will also support the schools to achieve their first Food for Life Award.

Sharon Johnson, Chief Executive of Trees for Cities said:  “Edible Playgrounds show children how rewarding it is to spend time outdoors and get them excited about where their food comes from. Currently we have developed over 25 edible playgrounds supporting over 10,000 pupils across the UK. With 37 per cent of children between ages of 5 – 12 not eating enough every day and 20 per cent obese on leaving primary school, more and more schools are now educating their children on how food is grown and on making healthy eating choices.”

Martin Giles, Head teacher of Meridian High School said “Our School is a family.  That means, above all else, we help each other to learn, grow and improve now and always.  Just like our planned Edible Playground!”

Ros Sandell, Executive Head of Fairchildes Primary School said: “The Edible Playground Project provides a great opportunity for a new initiative covering healthy eating, community engagement and partnership working with Meridian High School.  We have worked together previously in various capacities, but this would be a new direction for us and the benefits would be enormous for us both.”

Meridian High School and Fairchildes Primary School are two of Croydon’s Food Flagship Schools, supported by the Mayor of London. The schools are leading the way in inspiring and encouraging the communities of Croydon to grow and eat healthier food.

Meridian High School and Fairchildes Primary School
Fairchildes is an outstanding primary school keen to give its pupils more opportunities to learn how to grow food. They are joining forces with Meridian High School, their next door neighbour, to create a shared Edible Playground. Both schools are Croydon Food Flagship Schools, as part of the Croydon Food Flagship Borough Programme, and are keen to use their Edible Playground to give their pupils the opportunity to learn how to grow food, understand more about healthy eating and to provide the local community with a resource to share and be proud of.

9 July 2015

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

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, with competition sponsor Michael Hedges, Managing Director, 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

The School’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. The standard of fresh produce and home-made products (such as preserves, cordials, edible plants etc) was extremely high. The students, from infants right through to secondary school, took the lead as professional sales people, confidently answering customer’s questions about the goodies they had on offer.

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.

To see more photographs of the day visit our: Flickr photo gallery.

Continued below…

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, and to BBC TV Gardener, Chris Collins, for being our competition judge.

Congratulations to the following three schools who received their awards to huge applause, and look forward to setting up their own school gardens:

To see more photographs of the day visit our: Flickr photo gallery.

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

For more information about the School’s Marketplace and ‘Grow Your Own School Garden Competition Award Ceremony See related press release below:

6 July 2015

City Hall hosts School’s Marketplace for a second year

The Mayor of London’s Food Programme team are opening the doors of the prestigious City Hall to welcome 10  London schools to hold their very own Schools Marketplace. Taking place on Thursday 9th July 2015 from 12noon to 3pm, the event will be a mouth-watering showcase for delicious food grown in London’s schools. Sample tasty produce and fill your shopping bags with edible school-grown treats – from jams and chutneys, to salads, herbs, cordials, dips and more. The Schools Marketplace, is the grand finale of Grow Your Own Picnic 2015, a term-long celebration of food growing in London schools:

The Schools Marketplace is organised by the Food Growing Schools: London partnership, led by Garden Organic, and Capital Growth. In 2014 schools sold produce to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny!

The Mayor has formed a range of partnerships that are helping to transform London’s food environment. These include the Healthy Schools London awards programme, which incentivises the capital’s schools to adopt a whole-school approach to improving health by creating an environment which encourages growing and eating fresh, nutritious food.  In addition the London Food programme has established two Food Flagship boroughs: Croydon and Lambeth, to demonstrate the impact on health and attainment achievable through improving food across the whole environment, using schools as a catalyst to drive this change.

Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food, said: “It’s fantastic to see the enthusiasm among teachers, children and parents around growing and eating fresh, healthy food in schools.

“Involving school children in growing food helps to foster a love of good, healthy and nutritious produce, which is why the Mayor is supporting this initiative.”

As well as produce stalls, an award ceremony for the exciting new Grow Your Own School Garden Competition will take place at 1.30pm.  Judged by BBC TV Gardener Chris Collins, the competition is aimed at London schools that aren’t yet growing food. Eligible schools were tasked with setting up a school gardening  group, planning a new school growing space, identifying community support and making a gardening equipment wishlist. The three London schools that have been shortlisted to win are:  Our Lady of Grace Catholic Infant School (Brent); Richard Challoner School (Kingston) and Richmond Park Academy (Richmond).

The winners will receive fantastic prizes to start their own school garden, including £500 worth of garden vouchers from The Organic Gardening Catalogue and half a day with a garden expert. Second and Third prize have been kindly donated by Haxnicks and VegTrug. “Inspiring young people to grow their own healthy food, and to develop their knowledge of growing and the skills involved, is at the core of what we believe in at The Organic Gardening Catalogue.  We’re delighted to be able to support the Grow Your Own School Garden competition and hope that it will encourage more youngsters to get growing, they are after all, the next generation of farmers and growers!”- Michael Hedges, Managing Director, Chase Organics and The Organic Gardening Catalogue.

The next Food Growing Schools: London schools project is Grow Your Own Business 2015, which will launch for a second year in September 2015. To download a free 30-page schools activity pack and join in, visit:

Schools Marketplace – Thursday 9 July 2015, 12 – 3pm. City Hall, The Queen’s Walk London SE1 2AA

Participating school stallholders:

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

What our sponsors say:

See main body of press release for: Chris Collins (BBC TV Gardener) and Michael Hedges, Managing Director, Chase Organics and The Organic Gardening Catalogue.

‘Haxnicks are passionate about gardening and have a history of designing great new products to help everyone else who loves to grow. We are very excited to be supporting a project that is sowing the seeds for a new generation of grow-your-own enthusiasts, particularly in spaces and places where it might not otherwise be happening. We wish the schools good luck with their growing and happy harvesting too!’ Damian Cardozo, Haxnicks Founder

‘We are delighted to support the Food Growing Schools Project. It is essential for our future that our children get a hands on chance to grow food and plants in general. We work tirelessly around the world promoting grow your own and healthy eating and the London Schools Project is something we want to encourage as much as we can. Well done to everyone involved.’ Joe Denham, CEO for VegTrug Limited.

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

Led by Garden Organic, the Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) partnership brings together the very best of London’s food growing expertise, information and support, with the ambition to inspire and equip every school in London to grow their own food. Garden Organic is working in partnership with Capital Growth, Food For Life Partnership, Morrisons Let’s Grow, Royal Horticultural Society, School Food Matters and Trees for Cities. Funded by The Mayor of London and the Big Lottery Fund, the project aims to cultivate young people’s love for learning, and hunger for knowledge, and develop supportive local communities through food.

Food Flagship Boroughs – Croydon and Lambeth

The Greater London Authority (GLA) is happy to be supporting Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) to deliver a series of food growing training workshops in Croydon and Lambeth schools, and one to one support to 15 schools in Croydon that are not already food growing. . To ensure your school is eligible for FGSL initiatives, please fill in our survey:

Garden Organic

Garden Organic is the UK’s leading organic growing charity, dedicated to researching and promoting organic gardening, farming and food. We have been bringing the benefits of gardening to schools, big and small, for over 20 years, helping students and communities access the benefits of growing food and engage in hands on, practical activity. We do this through our training, project work, volunteer programmes and inspiring demonstration gardens at Ryton, near Coventry. As a partner in the Food for Life Partnership our education programmes, training and resources help teachers and school professionals to embed food growing as part of a whole school approach.

Capital Growth

Capital Growth, supported by the Mayor of London, runs a network for community food growing projects in London, providing advice, events, training and other support. They currently have over 700 schools in the network, many of whom have received funding, competition awards and other types of support and advice.  As part of the charity Sustain, Capital Growth also runs annual events such as Edible Open Gardens Day, urban Food Fortnight and the Big Dig which all members are encouraged to get involved in to raise the profile of their project.

6 Jul 2015

School Food Plan Publishes New Guidance to Support Ofsted Changes

The School Food Plan has produced practical guidance to help school leaders and governing bodies adopt a whole school approach to food and create a culture and ethos of healthy eating. It is designed to be used alongside other School Food Plan resources including the Headteacher Checklist and What Works Well website.

Ofsted, which we consulted in developing the guidance, will be making this document available to inspectors in their training. Download on our Resources page.

01 July 2015


Houston we have a problem…
…but we are fixing it!RHSRocket-Science_May2015

In case you didn’t watch the launch or haven’t seen the news, we are sad to announce that on Sunday afternoon the SpaceX-7 rocket exploded, along with our seeds and other precious cargo, shortly after take-off. The rocket was unmanned and broke up in the air so no one was harmed.

We always knew that there was a chance that whatever vehicle the seeds flew on it might experience a problem, as this is the nature of space flight. This is one of the reasons why we decided to send the seeds up many months before Tim Peake himself arrives at the International Space Station later this year. It also means that these seeds will be highly prized when they finally make their epic journey!

We have already procured more rocket seeds from the same British seed company Tozer Seeds, and are working with the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency to get these seeds on one of the next available cargo launches.

The rest of the project will continue on the same timeline so we will still open up official registrations in September and seeds and resource packs will be sent in spring 2016. Schools should continue to register their interest in the project and be the first to apply for seeds here.

We will keep you updated with progress as we continue. Please keep an eye on our website and follow @RHSSchools on Twitter for more information.

In the meantime, you can watch the rocket’s failed launch on YouTube here and for more detailed information on SpaceX-7 and the failed launch, please read the UK Space Agency blog here.

Best wishes,

The Campaign for School Gardening Team




FGSL News March 2015

23 March 2015

We are recruiting!Header_logo and strapline

Food Growing Schools: London – Engagement Officer. London
£25,000 pro rata. Part time (tbc – 2.5 -3 days a week)
Location: Old Street, London and Home based
Holiday Entitlement: 25 days + plus bank holidays

Overall purpose: Food Growing Schools London is an exciting project which proposes to engage with all schools in the Greater London area in food growing. We will be working with local networks, educational providers, schools, volunteers and other stakeholders to provide a Pan London network of support for schools. We are looking for individuals who have a proven track record of engaging and inspiring schools, volunteers and communities to embrace food growing or similar activity.

Application Closing Date: Monday, 13 April 2015

Download job description and apply via the Garden Organic website.

16th March 2015

Richmond school wins competition special prize awarded by celebrity gardener

See also: Grow Around the World

Trafalgar Infant School. GATW Competition winners.

Trafalgar Infant School in Richmond beat scores of green-fingered London schools to become special prize winners for the ‘Grow Your Own Lunch Competition’ organised by School Food Matters. Winning the special ‘Grow Around the World’ category awarded by the wider Food Growing Schools: London partnership, the students impressed judges with their sensational recipe design for an exotic, Tanzania inspired, two-course lunch.

From Tanzania to Twickenham with Trafalgar Infant School
Trafalgar Infant School used their experience raising money for a school vegetable garden in Tanzania with the Tanzania Livingstone Trust, to inspire their recipes. “Our children were thrilled to win! They filled their growing beds with new produce such as okra, chickpeas, and coriander and then cooked up delicious recipes for all to try. They are looking forward to cooking their ‘Grow Around the World’ food again on their community Big Dig day for all to enjoy.” Rachel Hutchins, Sustainability Teacher, Trafalgar Infant School Richmond.

The special prize was awarded to coincide with Food Growing Schools: London partnership’s ‘Grow Around the World’ campaign, a London schools’ celebration of food from around the world: The judges were impressed by the student’s ideas, creativity and research into growing exotic food, “Trafalgar Infant School stood out as real global citizens, demonstrating that food is connector of people, cultures and creativity. It is a pleasure to see London schools going one step further, learning to grow and cook exotic food often eaten in their own local communities, and experimenting with new growing ideas and recipe design.” said Chris Collins (BBC TV Gardener)

The whole ‘Grow Your Own Lunch’ Competition award ceremony will take place at the Edible Garden Show at 12noon on Friday 20th March 2015, at Alexandra Palace. The special prize will be awarded by expert judges Chris Collins (BBC TV gardener) and James Campbell (Garden Organic Chief Executive):

Among the schools short-listed to win the special ‘Grow Around the World’ prize were Bensham Manor School, Chisenhale Primary School, Colville Primary School, John Ruskin Primary School, John Scurr Primary School, Sacred Heart Primary (Battersea), St John’s C of E Primary School (Kingston), St Teresa Catholic Primary School and Ursuline Prep school. “The quality of school competition entries was extremely high, with each new entry showing creativity and inspiration that kept the judges smiling. Exotic food is rarely grown in the UK, but London students showed a real thirst for learning, demonstrating that anything is possible.” said James Campbell (Chief Executive, Garden Organic).

Trafalgar Infant School win ‘Grow Around the World’ category prizes, including:
•    5 free tickets for the Edible Garden Show (20 March 2015)
•    A half day visit to the school from a gardener.
•    A Sowing New Seeds guide to growing unusual crops in the UK – plus a CD of recipes and posters, created by Garden Organic.
•    A selection of unusual vegetable seeds,
•    A watering can and bottle top waterers.


About us: Food Growing Schools: London and School Food Matters

The Big Dig: Saturday 21st March 2015 – community garden national volunteer day.

The Schools Big Dig: 16th to 29th March 2015 – corporate voluntereing with schools

Press coverage: Richmond and Twickenham Times; Local Gardener.

13 March 2015

London businesses give an extra hand to growing schools

Schools Big Dig 2015
Staff from the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation volunteer in the school garden at Archbishop Sumner Primary in Lambeth for the Schools Big Dig 2015. Photo:Jane Baker/Garden Organic

Businesses in London are joining forces with London schools for the Schools Big Dig 2015, a new two-week event matching corporate volunteering groups with schools who need help to set up or improve their school food growing space. This event is organised by Capital Growth as part of their wider Big Dig initiative, in partnership with Food Growing Schools London.

Taking place between 16th and 29th March 2015, businesses including Civil Service Fast Stream, Edelman, Elba, Jamie Oliver Foundation, Nasdaq and Vodafone, will be rolling up their sleeves and picking up garden forks to help schools from Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hackney, Lambeth, Southwark and Waltham Forest who have signed up. It will be a day to remember with activities including everything from preparing raised beds to digging over soil, making food growing structures and more – with plenty of fun and fresh air for all.

Among the schools taking part is Archbishop Sumner Church of England Primary School in Lambeth, who will be welcoming Jamie Oliver Foundation staff to help develop their science eco garden. “We are very excited to be participating in the Schools Big Dig. The children are looking forward to planting their new fruit & vegetable crops.” said Babs Wright, School Cluster Manager, Archbishop Sumner Primary in Lambeth.

The 10-string team of Jamie Oliver Foundation staff will be ploughing their time and energy into volunteering on the day, as well as giving a donation of £100 to the school for their future gardening activities. “Getting our team out into a local school is a brilliant way for us to practice what we preach. We believe that it is essential that every child learns about food, what it is and where it comes from, and there is no better way to do that than to get kids growing food for themselves. Thank you to Archbishop Sumner for having us, and to the Schools Big Dig team for bringing communities together to make a difference to our children’s health.” said Juliane Caillouette Noble, School Programmes Manager, Jamie Oliver Food Foundation

Other London schools taking part include Grange Primary School (Southwark), Kenmont Primary School (Hammersmith and Fulham), Mulberry School for Girls (Tower Hamlets), Netley Primary School (Camden), St. Gabriel’s College (Lambeth), St. Scholastica’s Primary School (Hackney) and Willow Brook Primary School (Waltham Forest). Businesses and schools will be using the Twitter hashtag #schoolsbigdig to share their stories and photos of the day.

The Schools Big Dig aims to become an annual event, welcoming corporate volunteers every year to get to know their local community, give something back, and support local schools. This green initiative also aims to inspire healthier communities by sharing local growing skills, educate young people about where their food comes from, and develop more green spaces in our city.

The Schools Big Dig will enable London schools who are not yet growing, or are in need of a helping hand in their school gardens, to join Grow Your Own Picnic activities taking place in London during the summer term, organised by Food Growing Schools: London:


About us: Food Growing Schools: London and Capital Growth

The Big Dig: Saturday 21st March 2015 – community garden national volunteer day.

The Schools Big Dig: 16th to 29th March 2015 – corporate voluntereing with schools

Schools Big Dig 2015 – 16th to 29th march 2015
The Schools Big Dig is a collaboration between Food Growing Schools: London and Capital Growth, London’s food growing network of over 2000 growing spaces, including over 700 in schools, based at charity Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming. Inspired by the national Big Dig event, a day of public volunteering on community food growing sites, initiated in London by Capital Growth in 2012.

Social Media
Businesses and schools will be using the Twitter hashtag #schoolsbigdig to share their stories and photos of the day.

12 March 2015

Flagship Boroughs – Food Programme, GLA

Work has now started in the Food Flagship boroughs to implement and expand a range of projects aiming to improve the quality of food available to schools and communities; increase understanding of how diet impacts on health; develop practical cookery skills, increase food growing and foster a love of good food. Lambeth and Croydon were selected last Summer as the two Flagship boroughs after a competitive bidding process.

The Flagship boroughs came out of the national School Food Plan published in July 2013. The plan included a commitment for the Department for Education (DfE) to support the Greater London Authority to launch two Flagship Food Boroughs in London. Using the School Food Plan as a critical foundation, the Flagships will demonstrate the transformational impact on health and attainment achievable through improving food across the whole environment, using schools as a catalyst to drive this change.

Update – May 2015

The Food Flagships programme is now well underway in Lambeth and Croydon with flagship teams being set up in both boroughs to deliver projects with the vision to change the whole food environment. We will also be doing all we can to direct additional resource, expertise and enthusiasm towards the flagships to really start turning the dial. A good example of this is the connections we have made between the flagship boroughs and Food Growing School London who have recently started delivering training in Lambeth and looking to do the same in Croydon. The aim is to ensure as many schools as possible in the flagship boroughs will be food growing.

Lisa Bennett
Principal Policy Officer – Food Programme
Greater London Authority
Tel: +44 (0)20 7983 4920

Disclaimer: The Food Growing Schools: London partnership does not take responsibility for the content of news articles written by individual organisations, which are published on our ‘News’ pages.