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.

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

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.

Young Marketeers fight food waste with FareShare

This week the School Food Matters Young Marketeers winter sale schools had an eye-opening visit to the FareShare depot in London.

Getting stuck in

Students from four Southwark schools had the chance to witness the 8,000 tonnes of ‘fit for purpose’ products rescued from waste from the food and drink industry. They also heard about the charities that help to redistribute good food to those who need it most.

Our Young Marketeers were then tasked with putting together an order to be delivered to a charity in Elephant & Castle. This charity transforms the food into nutritious meals for vulnerable families.

Baking a difference

The students will be selling freshly baked bread and soup made from surplus ingredients at the Winter Sale on February 6th at Borough Market with all funds going to FareShare.

Up Next: Young Marketeers Harvest & Apple Sale

Eleven schools from Southwark and beyond will head to Borough Market laden with Autumn produce on October 5 for the Young Marketeers Harvest Sale.

Brand new for this year is an Apple Sale which will see students learn all about planting, harvesting and storing heritage variety apples to help tackle the issues around surplus autumn fruit.

Head on down to the Market Hall between 11.30 – 1.30pm to show your support and help raise money for FareShare, an organisation fighting hunger and tackling food waste.

For more information please visit the School Food Matters website.

London schools celebrate food growing success at City Hall

Junior Gardeners’ Question Time at the Food Growing Schools: London Celebration Event at City Hall. The young panellists were from Trafalgar Infant School (Richmond), Rokesly Junior School (Haringey) and Reay Primary School (Lambeth).
Junior Gardeners’ Question Time panelists from Trafalgar Infant School (Richmond), Rokesly Junior School (Haringey) and Reay Primary School (Lambeth). Photo: Jane Baker/Garden Organic.

From strawberry jam to tomato ketchup, and the great British apple to winter salad bags – young entrepreneurs from 10 London schools shared their food growing skills with the public at City Hall on Thursday 13 October 2016. They represent the increasing number of London students experiencing the huge benefits of food growing since the launch of Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) in 2013.

On Thursday 13 October 2016 during a unique FGSL Celebration Event, students showcased their school-grown produce at the sixth FGSL Schools Marketplace, run in partnership with Capital Growth, and took to the stage in the prestigious London’s Living Room.

The event was opened by Joanne McCartney AM, Deputy Mayor for London, and Deputy Mayor for Education and Childcare, for the Greater London Authority. It included the launch of the FGSL Interim Report (October 2016), showing the wide ranging benefits of food growing. There was also FGSL’s very own Junior Gardener’s Question Time, chaired by former Blue Peter Gardener Chris Collins – with food growing questions answered by children from schools across London.

When he attended the last Schools Marketplace at City Hall, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “ I’m really pleased to host the Schools Marketplace in City Hall. I want to help Londoners to have access to better food, and lead healthier lifestyles, so it’s great to see these young people growing their own grub and developing entrepreneurial skills.”

Students from schools in Croydon, Ealing, Greenwich, Haringey, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Richmond and Southwark took part, and won prizes as part of the *Schools Marketplace Competition.

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 at the Schools Marketplace, selling produce from the Trafalgar Infant School stall (Richmond) to City Hall staff. Jane Baker/Garden Organic

*Schools Marketplace participants and competition prize winners:

  • Athelney Primary School, Lewisham
  • Charlton Park Academy, Greenwich
  • Dormers Wells High School, Ealing
  • Elmwood Primary School, Croydon
  • *Holy Trinity C of E Primary School, Lewisham: Winners – ‘Best Dressed Stall’
  • *Kelvin Grove Primary School, Lewisham: Winners – ‘People’s Choice’
  • Reay Primary School, Lambeth
  • *Rokesly Junior School, Haringey: Winners – ‘Most Enterprising Product’
  • Rotherhithe Primary School, Southwark
  • Trafalgar Infant School, Richmond

Mark Dale-Emberton, Principle at Charlton Park Academy, Greenwich said: “Working with Food Growing Schools: London has helped us re-evaluate and reenergise the staff and students. We have looked afresh at our curriculum and how we can use the food that we grow to improve our meals, health and general wellbeing.”

Since their launch in 2013, Food Growing Schools: London have seen an amazing 25 out of 33 London boroughs step up to promote food growing in schools. The Benefits of Food Growing are impressive and far reaching – showing a positive impact on children’s physical and mental health, environment and education, and the local community and economy. Nearly 80% of schools engaged with FGSL have reported improved behaviour or attainment in students as a result of food growing, and one in four schools now use food growing as a teaching tool linked to curriculum activities. The FGSL report, containing the outcomes of an independent project evaluation by University of the West England, celebrates the successes of this innovative London-wide partnership, led by Garden Organic. The project is supported by the Mayor of London and the Big Lottery Fund.

James Campbell, Chief Executive, Garden Organic said: “I am deeply proud of what we have achieved so far — *87% of London schools are now growing food and considerably more pupils, parents, community members and businesses are involved.”

Speakers at the celebration event included Chris Collins (former Blue Peter Gardener, Broadcaster and Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic), James Campbell (CEO Garden Organic), Judy Orme (Professor of Public Health and Sustainability) and Mat Jones (Associate Professor of Public Health, University of West England).

Chris Collins, Broadcaster and Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic said: “I’m lucky to be out and about meeting students all the time, and it’s been amazing to see the difference Food Growing Schools: London is having in our London schools. The food growing support, resources and expertise the partnership provides is fantastic. Every school should take advantage and get involved!”

Whether you are already growing food in your school, you wish to get started, or you represent an organisation who can help, Food Growing Schools: London is open to all to Get Involved.



Jane Baker – Communications Officer, Food Growing Schools: London
07474210703 (PT – Mon to Thurs only) /

Spokespeople – Chris Collins (Broadcaster and Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic) and James Campbell (CEO Garden Organic)

Food Growing Schools: London is an ambitious Lottery funded project, supported by the Mayor of London that aims to get every London school growing their own food. Garden Organic as the lead organisation is working together with partners, Capital Growth, the Soil Association’s Food For Life project, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), School Food Matters and Trees for Cities. The Schools Marketplace, organised with FGSL partner Capital Growth, took place as part of Grow Your Own Business 2016. #GYOBusiness

FGSL Interim Project Report (October 2016)*
An independent project evaluation by University of the West England (Bristol), summarising the progress of the programme in its third year, assessing the impacts of FGSL for participants and wider stakeholders, focusing on schools and those supporting school food growing. To download the full report visit: Our Achievements

*Figures based on evaluation surveys with lead school teachers in September 2013 (n=504) and July 2016 (n=241). The independent FGSL project evaluation was carried out by research teams from the University of the West England and Cardiff University.








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.

TV gardener Chris Collins confirmed as the keynote speaker for Food Growing Schools: London upcoming Schools Conference 2016

18 February 2016

Chris Collins, famous TV gardener and passionate Garden Organic ambassador, will be the keynote speaker at the two Schools conferences organised this spring by Food Growing Schools: London, a project which brings together since 2014 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.

Chris Collins, TV gardener, quote: “I am very excited to be the keynote speaker for the Food Growing Schools London Conferences. I value greatly the opportunity of sharing my food growing experience with teachers, and younger generations. As a long standing ambassador for Garden Organic, I am always keen to support this kind of initiatives that gets more schools growing.”

Chris will be also part of the “Gardeners Question Time” activity held during the conferences which will be packed full of growing ideas for all the participants. London schools are welcome to book a place at one of the FGSL Schools Conferences which will be held on Tuesday 15th March in Camden (Argyle School) and Monday 11th April in Southwark (John Ruskin). Two venues, one conference for a day of school gardening workshops delivering  a variety of interactive and informative advice and hands-on activities led by London’s school food growing experts.

Jemima Wade, Headteacher of Argyle School, said: “Hosting the FGSL Schools Conference 2016 will be a great pleasure for us, as we foster and support food growing in our school. We are therefore pleased to share our space with other London schools during the March conference day”.

The event aims to bring together schools from across London to be inspired by the breadth of support available to them in order to grow food.  It will include a welcome address from Chris Collins and lead partner Garden Organic who will be joined by a number of partners including School Food Matters, Trees for Cities, Capital Growth and the RHS Campaign for School Gardening.

Suzy Gregory, Headteacher of John Ruskin School, said “We are very excited to host the FGSL Schools Conference 2016 at our school. Food growing plays a central part in our school, pupils take part in everyday growing that develops a love of food and an understanding of the journey from seed to plate. We are delighted to have the opportunity to share our progress with other London schools during the upcoming event in April”.

Topics will cover meeting new Ofsted and curriculum guidelines using food growing; planning and constructing a growing space, food growing and enterprise. There will also be the opportunity for tours of the on-site school gardens which host the conference, a Marketplace showcasing London school food growing organisations, and a tasty networking lunch.

For each conference Food Growing Schools: London is offering 50 free places to the schools worth £150 per delegate. For more information and to book visit:

Looking now for food growing support materials, tips, resources? All London schools and volunteers can sign up for free on


Southwark school gets boost for its growing ambition thanks to Trees for Cities’ edible playground initiative

12 January 2016

Charlotte Sharman Primary School, located in the heart of Elephant & Castle, has a large playground, but with only a few potted plants and some little-used play equipment, they have recently been looking for ways to promote healthy lifestyles for their pupils.

We are therefore excited to announce that Trees for Cities, with funding from players of Peoples Postcode Lottery, will now transform areas of the school playground at Charlotte Sharman Primary School in Southwark into an edible playground.

The edible playground – built in the school playground – will give the pupils the opportunity to grow fruit and vegetables and learn why healthy eating is important.  As well as enriching the pupils learning experience, it will also enable the teachers to teach across their broad and creative curriculum in an engaging outdoor space.

David Elliott, Chief Executive at Trees for Cities said  “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”.

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. School Food Matters will also support Charlotte Sharman Primary to achieve their first Food for Life Award.

Head Teacher at Charlotte Sharman adds: “The Charlotte Sharman community wanted to further develop pupils understanding of healthy lifestyles as well as enhancing the school environment. Edible Playgrounds provides the opportunities for children to grow and eat their own produce supporting our Silver Healthy Schools status alongside the science curriculum as well as providing a vibrant space for social interactions developing a love of the outdoors.”

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said: “It’s been a year since Trees for Cities won the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund, walking away with £249,180, and it is wonderful to see the positive impact the funding is having on schools. The Dream Fund gives organisations the chance to deliver their dream project and it is great to see the Edible Playgrounds project no longer be a dream but now a reality.”

If you or your business want to help raise the remainder of the funds needed for this project please visit where you can make a donation or get in touch with the team on 020 7820 4413.

The edible playground will be completed by April after which there will be a launch event to celebrate their fantastic new garden.

For more information please contact: Samantha Lagan – 020 7820 4426/07825541130


Enterprise Food Garden Award winners

Nightingale Primary, Hackney - case study