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.


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

What’s powering your pupils?

As a charity, Soil Association’s Food for Life understands how tight the purse strings are, and they know that schools are finding it especially tough to make ends meet. But with more than one in five children overweight or obese when they start primary school, rising to one in three by the time they leave, not to mention obesity prevalence in children in the most deprived areas of the country twice that of children in the least deprived areas, we can’t let tight budgets impact on the health of the next generation.

That’s why Food for Life has revamped their School Awards Programme to make it more affordable for schools to benefit from their unique, whole school approach that is proven to make a positive contribution to pupil health and wellbeing. What’s more, as a Food Growing London School, you are almost certainly well on your way to achieving an award!

Find out more here and start powering your pupils with Food for Life.

Developing a whole school approach

If you’ve been following our recent blogs you may have plans for food growing, whether that is allocating some space for food growing, gathering resources, or planning food growing into the curriculum.

Wherever you are on your food-growing journey is very exciting, but the maximum benefits come from instigating a whole school approach to food education.

Essentially this is where understanding about all aspects of food (including growing and healthy eating) has senior management support, is throughout the curriculum and in the school development plan.  It is for all pupils and at all times of the day and even influences the wider community.

It may not be easy but it is definitely worth aiming for and we have some school stories to inspire you!

Rhyl Primary School has won numerous awards for the outdoor learning activities but started with just two small raised beds.  All pupils have regular weekly sessions in the garden and outdoor classroom and the school has plans to build a teaching kitchen giving access to community organisations and families, as well as to be used during the school day.

At John Ruskin Primary adopting a whole school approach has increased take up of school dinners and understanding of where food comes from.  Pupils have developed their social and team skills as well as the more practical gardening skills.

Tim Baker, Headteacher at Charlton Manor Primary is so convinced of the wider benefits of food growing that he is helping other local schools and community projects to grow, sharing allotment space and time with the school’s gardener and the school hosts a parent and child growing club.

Recipe for Success:

  1. Getting support from teachers and building their knowledge is key to getting food growing embedded into the school’s ethos.  There are lots of training events and workshops whether you’re a complete beginner or wanting to take your growing activities to the next level
  2. The Soil Association Food for Life Schools Award is designed to support schools to develop a healthy food culture
  3. The RHS School Gardening Awards help schools to work through five different levels, turning their garden into a valuable learning resource for the whole school and the local community

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

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

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

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

About Grow – the book

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

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

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

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


What are London boroughs doing for community food growing?

Today sees the launch of the Good Food For London 2016 report, produced by our friends at Sustain through their London Food Link project.  The report takes an intriguing look at various aspects of ‘good food’, from community food growing and school food standards, to animal welfare, sustainable fish, fair pay and fair trade – and at the boroughs that are making strides to improve food culture in London. Good Food For London is supported by the GLA and partner organisations, including Food Growing Schools: London.

London boroughs are ranked in a league table according to their action on 11 ‘good food’ measures. Scores range from 95 to 15 per cent. The fantastic news is that 30 out of 33 London boroughs are doing more to improve the food available to their residents, workers and school pupils compared to 2015. For a broad look at ‘good food’ in London’s boroughs you can read the full Good Food for London 2016 report here.

Good food in London’s schools
So what does the Good Food For London 2016 report say about progress in schools? There are four key measures related to schools listed below:

Community Food Growing (Green map and list above)
The GFFL 2016 report for this measure shows that there is 1) increasing local authority commitment to food growing in communities, 2) inclusion of food growing in the Local Plan for more boroughs, and 3) borough support for school food growing through our Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) programme.  To achieve this measure at least 75% of local schools should be registered with FGSL by completing our short FGSL survey.

FGSL’s work with councils, council officers and communications representatives is really starting to make a difference. According to our own FGSL interim report launched at City Hall in October 2016, now 25 out of 33 boroughs are promoting food growing in schools compared to 15 in 2015. Almost 1,400 schools have signed up for support from FGSL so far, 87% of schools that have completed our FGSL survey have said they are involved in food growing, of which 79% cent of pupils involved have improved behaviour and attainment as a result, and 1,000 people have received training from FGSL to date. Amazing!

Good Food for London 2016 - comparing borough progress
Good Food for London 2016

Food For Life Catering Mark (listed in red on chart)
The Soil Association Food For Life Catering Mark helps organisations – from schools to nurseries to museums and staff restaurants – ensure they serve traceable, sustainable, healthier food. For this measure, the GFFL 2016 report shows that in 21 boroughs, the majority of schools are now serving Silver or Gold catering mark meals and many expanded catering mark meals to nurseries. This is remarkable especially considering in 2011 no boroughs were serving Gold catering mark meals and only eight were serving Silver in the majority of schools. But the work is far from done. This leaves out almost one third of borough where the majority of schools don’t serve meals with the accreditation. Food for Life is one of six FGSL partners.

Changing food culture in schools
From September 2015 the new OFSTED inspection framework has an increased focus on healthy eating and knowledge of how to eat healthily. The GFFL 2016 report also measures changes in food culture in schools by looking at progress in two evidenced-based programmes: Food for Life and Healthy Schools London. The report shows that 22 boroughs are making ‘some progress’ and only seven are making ‘good progress’ in engaging with these school programmes.

Food Flagships two years on – Croydon and Lambeth
In June 2014, the Mayor of London launched the Food Flagship programme in two pilot boroughs: Croydon and Lambeth, encouraging the wider community to make healthy eating normal. Lots has been achieved, and Food Growing Schools: London has supported these initiatives by doing food growing activities and training in in both boroughs, and supporting with a Schools Marketplace, four school Edible Playgrounds (with Trees for Cities) and Master Gardener community growing (with Garden Organic) in Croydon.

FGSL – continued support for London boroughs
The full Good Food For London 2016 report shows that great strides have been made to improve food culture in London, and FGSL is a big part of this. But we want to do even more with schools. Find out more about FGSL Support including.

Let’s make 2017 even better. Join FGSL in working towards our dream to see every school in London growing food!




































Support for Food for Life Awards


The Food for Life Awards scheme, managed by the Soil Association, is now offering schools a brand new awards support package for a great value subscription.

Fresh ideas and imaginative food education for you!

It includes:

– Extensive printed resource pack

– On-site visit from a FFL school food expert

– Online seminars

– Your own web portal with interactive support.

Further info: FFL Awards




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.