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.

Local School Nature Grants – back for second year

Second year of Local School Nature Grants Scheme

What do birdboxes, seeds, den making kits and nature experts all have in common?  They are all available free to schools as part of the Local School Nature Grants Programme, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The grants provide £500 of nature equipment and 2 hours of training to schools in England, Scotland and Wales.  The packages are customisable, enabling schools to choose from a menu of items which best suit their learners and their setting.

For example, schools looking to start growing food or develop their school gardens can select Garden Organic‘s Get Growing kit to receive seeds, growing cards, a term time garden planner and more.

Nature Grants, Garden Organic’s Get Growing kit available to select.

Launched on 21 March 2018, this second phase of the scheme builds on the huge success of phase one, which bought benefit to  300 schools and over 20,000 pupils in 2017.

The project is funded by Postcode Local Trust, which receives funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

To apply for a grant visit Learning Through Landscapes’ website.

Find out more information about Postcode Local Trust and People’s Postcode Lottery.

 

 

Train a trainer with Food for Life in Greenwich

Transforming food culture

One of our Food Growing Schools: London partners, Soil Association Food for Life is working with the London Royal Borough of Greenwich to transform food culture in the borough.

Alexander McLeod Primary School in Abbey Wood hosted a few keen people on 5 Dec 2017  who had food growing and healthy cooking on their minds as part of the Food for Life Train the Trainer partnership in Greenwich.

The project is about community-based people training others in areas of food education linked to promoting a healthy lifestyle through food, both in growing healthy food and then also using that healthy food to prepare meals.

Train a trainer

The food growing element of the training was led by Garden Organic’s Associate Liz Davies.  She took participants through the elements of the Food for Life awards criteria, whole school approach to food education linked to the primary curriculum, organic growing in schools and also composting in schools.

Integrating organic growing with the primary curriculum focusing on Food for Life activities including school community engagement brought everything to life by using the school’s glorious growing space as a foundation for learning.

The afternoon finished with participants’ trialing practical activities highlighting health and safety considerations in schools along with curriculum planning and seed saving ideas.

Events like these help to gather bright minds and great ideas, to help build stronger, healthier communities.

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If you’d like to find out more about the Soil Association Food For Life programme and related initiatives, please visit their website.

Project Learning Garden seeks schools in Bexley, Merton & Southwark

Project Learning Garden is recruiting schools in Bexley, Merton and Southwark

Project Learning Garden  provides free starter kits to schools with everything they need to start or refresh a food growing garden and use it as an outdoor classroom.

Schools are provided with free hands-on training, curriculum linked resources, raised beds and gardening tools, a cooking kit and ongoing support and guidance.

Project Learning Garden is looking to take 10 new schools on board in Bexley and Southwark. Schools in Merton can also apply.

For more information and to apply please visit the Garden Organic website

https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/project-learning-garden-captain-planet-foundation

What is Project Learning Garden™?
Project Learning Garden is a programme that 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.
Who started Project Learning Garden™?
The Project Learning Garden programme was first set up by the Captain Planet Foundation in the USA.
Captain Planet Foundation is a grant-making foundation that has funded over 2,600 hands-on environmental education projects with schools and non-profits that serve children in all 50 U.S. states and in 25 countries internationally. More than 1.4 million children have directly participated in and benefited from these educational projects.
Since 2011, over 340 learning gardens have been set up in the USA, across 10 States.  Due to its success, Project Learning Garden™ is now being piloted by Garden Organic in the UK.
Who can get involved?
We are looking to work with primary schools who do not have a school garden or whose garden needs re-invigorating so that it can be used effectively as an outdoor classroom during the school day.
To apply or find out more, please visit the website.

Local School Nature Grants Scheme

Learning through Landscapes Nature GrantsFood Growing Schools: London’s lead partner Garden Organic are delighted to be a supplier in the Local School Nature Grants Scheme, helping schools branch out into nature

What do birdboxes, bee hotels, den making kits and nature experts all have in common? They are all available free to schools as part of Learning through Landscapes’ Local School Nature Grants Programme, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery: http://www.ltl.org.uk/naturegrants/

Learning through Landscapes is a UK charity dedicated to enhancing outdoor learning and play for children. The grants provide an assortment of nature equipment and training up to the value of £500. The packages are customisable, enabling schools to choose from a menu of items which best suit their learners and their setting. All schools in England, Scotland and Wales are welcome to apply.

For example the Garden Organic Get Growing Kit includes:

A great pack of resources to actually get you growing:
1 x Starter pack of seeds
(18 packets of organic fruit and vegetable seeds plus edible flowers. (Exact seeds provided will depend on the season))
1 x term time growing planner
1 x pack of 25 vegetable growing cards
1 x composting booklet
1 x soil information pack
(Total 23 items)

The other suppliers are Glasgow Wood Recycling, Outdoor People, RSPB, MindStretchers and Touchwood.

The aim is to make it easy to get young people in touch with nature, and so the application process is quick and straight forward. The programme launches in late January 2017 and will be open to applications for a full year.

The project is funded by Postcode Local Trust, which receives funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

This scheme does not provide cash grants for schools.

To find out more visit: Local School Nature Grants Programme.

To find out about more competitions, offers and funds on the Food Growing Schools: London website visit: Competitions

 

Making the most of a small space

Growing in a small plot
Growing in a small space

The hats and gloves have been packed away and the sun has been making an appearance across the country.  With the warmer and lighter days comes the opportunity to pull on your wellies and start growing food at your school this year.

We know it might seem a bit daunting at first so we have put together a series of blogs to help you spring over the hurdles and get started.

Our schools survey showed that around 30% of schools consider lack of space to be one of the biggest hurdles to food growing that they face. So, first things first – where can we grow?

If you happen to have a nice sunny spot on your school playing field then great, start digging! But if not, don’t give up.  Lots of food can be grown in containers of all shapes and sizes on the ground, on windowsills or hanging down.

John Ruskin Primary School in Southwark have limited outdoor space so all of their growing is in trugs and raised beds built on the playground, and with help from Walworth Garden Farm, they have also started growing food on the roof of the school.

They have lost a bit of playground area but the children play around the beds which makes the space more dynamic. Now they’re thinking of how to make opportunities to grow upwards, using archways and trellis to get the most out of every square foot.

Suzy Gregory, Co-Deputy Headteacher suggests getting a planter as big as you can afford, and just start growing.  Plant something easy like lettuce, potatoes or tomatoes and give it a grow!

Recipe for Success

  1. Look at your space with new eyes and think creatively, use these resources to help choose crops that do well in small spaces
  1. Small manageable spaces can produce lots of different types of crops, this resource form Garden Organic helps you get the most out of a 120x120cm space
  1. If you want to gain as much growing area as possible consider your school roof but make sure you seek advice from professionals first

Reap what you sow: Tips from Chris Collins

Chris Top tips resizedWe’re delighted to be able to share some top tips from FGSL resident expert Chris Collins, to help you get the most from your food growing efforts this year.

“This is the busiest point in the garden and time to get cracking if you want a bountiful summer. Sowing seeds is currently the order of the day for me. This year I’m growing many heritage varieties that I got from Garden Organic, but use whatever you can get your hands on!”

For schools, there’s always the challenge of the timing of terms, particularly growing ‘tender’ crops such as tomatoes, runner beans or pumpkins. These are no lovers of any cold weather and need to be protected until mid-May before planting out. This leaves only a small amount of time for harvesting in the school garden before the summer break begins.

To get around this dilemma we need to sow these plants NOW, so here are some handy tips:

  1. Invest in a few propagators (mini Greenhouses) like these.

Whilst they do require initial expenditure, they’ll last many seasons if cared for. If this is not an option, a pot with a perforated sandwich bag held in place by canes and a rubber band over it will suffice. This video might help!

  1. Sow plants using a seed compost

Don’t skimp on compost, it’s important! But you can save money by producing your own compost by collecting leaves, raw food waste, such as fruit and veg peelings, and adding them to a compost heap in your garden.

How to make your own compost

  1. Re-pot plants

In its incubation chamber, our propagator will soon germinate our seeds. Once this happens they should be taken out, potted into bigger pots if necessary and placed on a bright school window ledge, preferably out of long periods of direct sunshine which may bleach the leaves.

  1. Grow, then plant out

These plants can then be grown until the safety of mid-May, at which point they can be planted out as nice sturdy specimens, giving them a great head start on the season.

“This will all be worth the extra effort. Tomatoes, beans and pumpkins are the fastest growing and fastest yielding of the edible crops, making them a real joy for the children to see them grow.”

Also check out this advice on sowing indoors from The RHS and the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Happy Growing!

 

Competitions and funding galore!

RHS Campaign for School Gardening
RHS Campaign for School Gardening

Spring is on it’s way, and with it brings a fantastic array of competitions and funding for school and community growing and outdoor learning projects. Here is a list of some of our favourites in March and April 2017, from friends and partners of Food Growing Schools: London. Apply while you can!

First up, RHS Campaign for School Gardening have three exciting competitions for schools:

RHS Schools’ Scarecrow Competition
Take a walk on the wild side and design your best wildlife-themed scarecrow to go proudly on display at this year’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. All pre-schools and primary schools in the South East and London are eligible to enter. Applications close on Friday 10 March 2017.

RHS Budding Gardeners 2017
All schools and groups are invited to design their best mini show garden based around the theme, Famous Five Go on a Garden Adventure, to be displayed at RHS Garden Wisley! Applications close on Monday 20 March 2017.

RHS School Gardeners of the Year 2017
Do you have students, staff or volunteers who are dedicated and passionate gardeners? Nominate your gardening stars for one of three RHS awards:

  • RHS Young School Gardener of the Year 2017 (a young person aged 5-16)
  • RHS School Gardening Champion of the Year 2017 (an adult within your school)
  • RHS School Gardening Team of the Year 2017 (a team of young people)

Prizes include a Gabriel Ash Classic Eight greenhouse worth £3,425, or a fantastic cold frame worth up to £699! In addition there are vouchers, gloves, tools and more to win. Nominations close on Friday 28 April 2017.

Next up, Soil Association Food For Life have a fantastic competition for member schools:

Grandparent Gardening Week Competition
27 to 31 March 2017, Nationwide
Food for Life’s (FFL) Grandparent Gardening is a great way to involve your community in school life and kick start your garden into action after the winter. Plus, FFL member schools can win a polytunnel, roll out sensory garden or Veg Trug! Just share your Grandparent Gardening Week photos on Twitter using the hashtag #FFLGGWeek. Competition deadline Friday 28 April 2017.

Garden Organic are pleased to announce that they are suppliers in Learing through Landscape’s new grants scheme:

Local School Nature Grants Programme
What do birdboxes, bee hotels, and den making kits all have in common? They are among the assortment of nature equipment and training available free to schools who enter Learning through Landscapes’ new grant scheme, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Garden Organic is a supplier in this exciting new programme which is open for applications throughout 2017.


To discover more competitions, offers and funds with deadlines in March and April 2017, visit: Competitions

London schools get enterprising with School Food Matters

School Food Matters Market Day in Stoke Newington, with with Hoxton Garden Primary.
School Food Matters Market Day in Stoke Newington, with Hoxton Garden Primary.

School Food Matters are one of six fantastic Food Growing Schools: London partners founded in 2007 by parent Stephanie Wood. Over the past 10 years they have made their name as experts in school food enterprise projects, working with thousands of pupils in schools across London.

Enterprising school food projects

In March and April 2017, Know your Onions, School Food Matters’ new secondary school project progresses with 15 gardening sessions delivered by our partners, Garden Organic. These sessions will inspire students to get involved in food growing, think about where their food comes from and learn useful skills.  In April, these schools visit a local market garden where they can see professional food growing at scale, within the boundaries of London. These visits help the students to contextualise their food growing in the wider environment and think about the effects of global food production on the environment. Know your Onions is kindly supported for 3 years by the City of London Corporation’s charity, City Bridge Trust. Read more about the progress of the programme, including students learning to cook their produce, and sell it at their local street market: Know Your Onions.

The Schools to Market programme, led by School Food Matters in partnership with Whole Kids Foundation, is now entering its fifth year and kicks off in March 2017 with an assembly at 20 participating schools. This year five Whole Foods Market stores are taking part: Richmond, Fulham Broadway, High Street Kensington, Cheltenham and Giffnock. The assembly not only launches the programme but also looks at the purpose of it; to take children on a journey from seed to supermarket, to teach them about fresh, healthy food and to improve their nutrition and wellbeing. This way the whole school can benefit from the assembly and not just those children chosen to participate in Schools to Market. Keep up to date with what’s happening when at: Schools to Market.

Other enterprising School Food Matters projects include: Young Marketeers at Borough Market and Fresh Enterprise: School Food Matters Enterprise Projects

For ideas on how to start an enterprise food project in your school visit the Food Growing Schools: London website: Grow Your Own Business

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.