Food Growing Schools: London encourages schools to use the school garden and food growing activities to deliver the curriculum because of the many benefits, including increased attainment for pupils engaging in learning in this way (discover the benefits of school food growing here).
Why focus on the science curriculum?
In particular, science is an aspect of the curriculum that links well on a number of levels to food growing activities.
FGSL Engagement Officer, Nick Ives, has worked with teachers and school staff across London, helping host teachers’ forums and twilight sessions to share ideas and practical steps for best practice.
“Increasingly, I’ve found that schools respond very positively to using food growing activities to deliver Science. Food growing lends itself well to many of the processes and concepts involved in Science.
I always kick off a training session with teachers or pupils by asking: what are the five key things we need to get anything to grow?
Even the most unconfident growers will get the first four – Seeds, Soil, Water, Sun! Each of these four ideas make excellent jumping off places to deliver Science. The fifth being YOU ie the gardeners to pull all these together!
A quick brainstorm of possible links to the first four will include, plant growth, seed germination, rocks weathering to different soil types, decomposition of organic matter vs plastics, insect pollination, habitats eg compost heap invertebrates, predators and prey, movement of planets ie Earth’s seasons, water cycle – to name a few! Of course growing organically increases one’s chances of exploring associated biodiversity – little compares to witnessing the joy of watching ladybird larvae munching aphids or seeing ants fight off ladybirds because they want to protect their honeydew producing aphid farms!
All great stuff to observe and discuss.
If you fancy linking the science of growing to supermarkets and eating habits, a simple investigation is to buy a range of lentils, peas and beans and try a germination test on them – you’ll surprise yourself!”
For more of our case studies about food growing in schools, visit this page.
Watch this RHS Campaign for school gardening video below celebrating 10 years and mentioning the top subjects that are taught in the school garden.
School Food Matters have partnered with Whole Kids Foundation to provide School Garden Grants for schools in the four London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Hammersmith and Fulham, Newham and Waltham Forest. Whole Kids Foundation is offering a total of £40,000 in grants of up to £2,000 per school to create new edible gardens or to enhance existing ones within the schools grounds.
The School Garden Grants are open to:
all schools in the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Hammersmith and Fulham, Newham and Waltham Forest
applications for grants up to £2000
Schools can apply for funding for a whole range of food growing projects from building raised beds or adding greenhouses, to completely revitalising neglected allotment spaces or creating sensory gardens for special needs students. Schools can also apply for a grant to provide food growing training for staff and students.
Applications must be submitted by 5pm on Friday 20 April 2018. The grant programme will close on that date or when they have received 80 applications – whichever is sooner.
During February Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) teamed up with Author Ben Raskin and Leaping Hare Press to launch an exciting prize draw. For London schools to win ‘Grow’, a fantastic new illustrated book helping children to get inspired to grow food. We received a huge number of entries from primary schools all across London, with many sharing their exciting plans to grow food with students this year.
Announcing the ‘Grow’ book winners
Congratulations to the following schools who won ‘Grow’ the book:
St Leonards Church of England School, Lambeth
Linton Mead primary School, Greenwich
Cranford Primary School, Hounslow
Stoneydown Park Primary School, Waltham Forest
Streatham Wells Primary School, Lambeth
Akiva School, Barnet
Reay Primary School, Lambeth
Gilbert Colvin, Redbridge
Marner Primary School, Tower Hamlets
Three lucky schools were also picked to receive ‘Grow’, and a visit from the Author Ben Raskin to bring the activities in the book alive. Congratulations to you too. We will be in touch soon to arrange a time to visit your school:
St Joseph’s Primary School, Wandsworth
King Athelstan Primary, Kingston Upon Thames
Abbotsfield School, Hillingdon
We were particularly excited to hear lots of exciting plans to grow food in your schools this year, including:
” We are starting the Edible playgrounds project in February, so we are expecting the whole school to be involved in growing. We will be including parents and making sure that all classes are using the garden for lessons across the curriculum.”
” In Year 3 [we will be growing] pumpkins to look at how feeding the soil helps hungry plants, in Year 4 herbs to support learning about the Romans, peppers in Year 5 to learn about the Americas and in Year 6 [growing] tomatoes and cucumber to make Israeli salads! “
First one hundred schools – win a ‘Grow’ activity pack
If you were quick off the mark you may be one of the first 100 schools to enter who have won an exclusive, limited-edition ‘Grow’ activity pack. Keep an eye out for one winging its way to your school. It includes games such as Worms and Ladders, Compost Bingo, seeds and stickers! Fingers crossed!
There are lots of competitions, offers and funds available to help schools grow food this Spring. Find out more here – good luck: Competitions
FGSL support and inspiration to grow
We hope that our ‘Grow’ book competition has inspired your primary school to grow food. If you are looking for help or ideas to get started FGSL can help. We provide the following support and more:
Fancy a brilliant day of workshops on topics around outdoor learning, school gardening and edible education?
Rhyl Primary School in Camden is hosting their fourth annual Outdoor Learning Conference on Wednesday April 26th, 9:30-3pm. Workshops include Forest School, inspiring maths and writing outdoors, garden design, embedding in school curriculum and guest speakers from the trailblazing Natural Connections Project.
Price is only £60, which includes three workshops and lunch / pizza from our wood fired oven. The school band will perform during lunch. Any profits from the event to the Rhyl Kitchen Classroom project.
Capital Growth spaces can claim a 10% early bird discount if they book before March 1st. Please quote your Capital Growth space number.
Spring into Growing – help to get growing this term at your school
At Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) we encourage and inspire schools to start growing their own food, no matter how big or how small a space you have. As Engagement Officers, my colleague Paul and I can support you in getting started. We can give you advice on the phone, run a workshop at your school, or share resources.
A great way to get started this term is to join us for Spring into Growing 2017 – Plan it. Build it. Grow it! With our expert guidance, learn the secrets to planning and constructing your own school garden, work with recycled materials and nature in order to develop a productive growing space; all with the help of your local community.
Which Engagement Officer works where in London?
Lisa Grant – I cover these boroughs – Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Greenwich, Haringey, Havering, Lewisham, Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets.
Paul Sadler covers these boroughs – Barnet, Camden, City of London, Croydon, Enfield, Harrow, Hillingdon, Islington, Lambeth, Southwark, Sutton, Waltham Forest and Westminster.
An example school growing food – Smithy Street Primary School in Tower Hamlets
I met with the Early Years and Foundation Stage Phase Leader, Christine Hopes, at Smithy Street Primary School in Tower Hamlets towards the end of 2016. She had the intention of starting to grow with her team of teachers and their students, in a small dedicated space outside in the playground. Christine and I spoke about what she wanted me to cover in a bespoke workshop, and we looked at their growing space to see what was possible. Here is some advice on how to get started:
Top tips for getting started
1. Where – Decide on an outdoor area where you would like to start growing food. Does it get lots of sunlight?
2. Who – Decide on who is going to take a lead in this. Is it a gardening club at lunchtime or after school? Is it a phase group? It is a parent volunteer or a member of school staff?
3. What – Do some research. Is there a local farm or a local community organisation that could support you in starting to grow your own food? Have you filled out our online FGSL survey so we can help you get started?
4. How – Get in touch with either Paul or myself after checking which boroughs we cover. We can have a conversation by email or by phone in the first instance to get going with this great adventure in growing food.
During the workshop, with another local school called Redlands Primary School, I worked with the staff to look at what plants were possible to grow at this time of year, and what small steps could be taken to start growing successfully in a manageable way. The two schools worked together to plan how they were going to start growing and I facilitated discussions about this.
Get growing in your school this Spring
If you wish to start growing and would like support from our team, please complete our online survey FGSL survey to tell us what support you need. Then, check out our online resources this term: Spring into Growing 2017 – Sow it. Grow it. Build it!
This includes information on:
• How to: Plan your school garden
• How to: Construct your garden
• How to: Work with nature in your garden
• How to: Get help from your local community
• Competitions and giveaways
Have you ever thought about taking your pupils outside for maths and English lessons? Being in the school garden or a beautiful local green space will inspire your pupils to learn, enjoy and achieve in these subjects.
Last chance to book your place on this fantastic RHS Campaign for School Gardening workshop – at Hampton Hill Junior School next Tuesday 8 November 2016
Trees offer many opportunities for maths activities ranging from estimation to tessellation skills. Plant propagation offers pupils a practical way to understand fractions and decimals. The natural world can provide openings for discussion and creative writing on a range of subjects. Gardens encourage children to question and explore new ideas and build their skills through listening, talking, watching and reading. Seed packets are ideal for helping children to write instructions as well as giving them a flavour of the seasons. Flowers have been the subject of much poetry and creative writing over the years.
Key Stages targeted: Key Stages 1 and 2 Level of experience: Suitable for beginners and those with some experience.
Aims and Activities
Identify the outdoor places and types of activities that will inspire your pupils to become successful learners
Learn useful gardening skills which can be used to engage pupils with maths and English programmes of study
Write your own activities using the outdoors as a basis for teaching maths or English skills
Venue: Hampton Hill Junior School, St James Avenue, Hampton Hill, TW12 1HW Date: 8th November 2016 Cost: £95 per person. £170 if you book two separate courses or two places on the same course. CPD Provider: Chris Young
Stamford Hill Primary School, which is located in Tottenham, North London, will be transforming areas of their playground into an Edible Playground, thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Trees for Cities will transform areas of the school playground into an edible playground, which will be designed specifically for the school, including raised beds for growing salads, root vegetables, soft fruits and herbs, fruit trees 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 school has recently been awarded the Gold Healthy Schools status and as part of their ongoing work on Healthy Eating is about to embark on this new teaching and learning journey over the next few years.
Kathy O Sullivan, Head Teacher at Stamford Hill Primary said: “As part of our ongoing work on Healthy Eating, we have installed a cooking kitchen and employed our own cook. A cooking room is also being installed so we can develop the cooking curriculum across the school. We are keen to extend our work on healthy schools and growing our own food felt like the next logical step”.
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, Leeds, Reading and Liverpool. As part of the project, the pupils will also enjoy hands-on cooking lessons from Chefs Adopt a School and access to food education programmes outside the school gate via charity School Food Matter’s Membership for Schools.
David Elliott, Chief Executive at Trees for Cities said: “We are delighted to announce our seventh Dream Fund Edible Playground at Stamford Hill Primary School in Haringey, thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Our Edible Playground programme addresses several key areas of concern around children’s health. They teach pupils where food comes from, that healthy food can be the easy choice, in and out of school and encourage physical activity“
Tesco bags of help have shortlisted this school for 8-12k of additional funding and this project will also go forward to a public vote in Tesco stores with their customers deciding the outcome. The public will be able to vote for their favourite project in their local Tesco stores from 26th September 2016 to 9th October 2016.
Trees for Cities has been working in schools to plant fruit and nut trees since 2000. With this track record and experience, TfC’ 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 30 Edible Playgrounds in the UK with a further 40 to be rolled out over the next three years.
If you or your business want to help raise the remainder of the funds needed for this project please visit http://www.edibleplaygrounds.org/ where you can make a donation or get in touch with the team on 020 7820 4413.
For more information please contact: Samantha Lagan – 020 7820 4426/07825541130 firstname.lastname@example.org Images available upon request
Notes to Editors
Trees for Cities is an independent charity making our cities greener both in the UK and internationally. They also plant ‘Edible Playgrounds‘ in primary schools in deprived urban areas of the UK to help children learn about growing and eating healthy food. All of this is done with the help of thousands of volunteers.
The trees they plant transform spaces where people live, work and play, particularly in areas where the social and environmental impact on local people is greatest: in London this might mean planting trees to clean the air, focusing on areas affected by NO2 Pollution, whilst internationally they plant fruiting trees for food and sustainable livelihoods.
Since 1993, Trees for Cities has engaged over 70,000 people to plant over 600,000 urban trees in parks, streets, schools and housing estates worldwide, revitalising these areas and improving the lives of the people that live in them.
Edible Playgrounds is a programme led by Trees for Cities who have been working in schools to plant fruit and nut trees for over 10 years. “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, they 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. An Edible Playground typically includes raised beds, a greenhouse, wormery, fruit trees and an irrigation system.
School Food Matters is a registered charity based in London that campaigns for fresh sustainable food in schools and for children to understand where their food comes from. To achieve this SFM listens to schools, parents and children. Together they urge local authorities to improve school meals and to support food education through cooking, growing and links with local farms. http://www.schoolfoodmatters.org/
Chefs Adopt a School founded in 1990 by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Adopt a School, which includes Chefs Adopt a School and Hospitality in Schools, is a national charity which teaches children – in a holistic way – about food, cookery food provenance, food growing, healthy eating, nutrition, hygiene, table etiquette and the importance of eating together. Professional Chefs deliver sessions in the classroom which range in content from the four tastes and the five senses, to advanced practical cookery. The charity reaches over 20,000 children every year and we work with primary schools, secondary schools, SEN schools, hospital schools, pupil referral units, sports centres and food festivals. We believe that every child should be taught about the importance of food and the significance it has in our lives. http://www.chefsadoptaschool.org.uk/
People’s Postcode Lottery
• People’s Postcode Lottery is a charity lottery. Players play with their postcodes to win cash prizes, while raising money for charities and good causes across Great Britain and globally
• A minimum of 30% goes directly to charities and players have raised £135.8 Million for good causes across the country
• £10 for 10 draws paid monthly in advance with prizes every day. For further prize information visit: www.postcodelottery.co.uk/prizes
• Maximum amount a single ticket can win is 10% of the draw revenue to a maximum of £400,000
• Players can sign up by Direct Debit, credit card or PayPal online at www.postcodelottery.co.uk, or by calling 0808 10-9-8-7-6-5
• Postcode Lottery Limited is regulated by the Gambling Commission under certificate nr 000-000829-N-102511-011 and 000-000829-R-102513-010. Registered office: Titchfield House, 69/85 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4RR
• People’s Postcode Lottery manages multiple society lotteries promoted by different charities. For details on which society lottery is running each week, visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk/society
• This prize was part of the draw promoted by Royal Voluntary Service or WWF