Bexley food growing and mental health workshop a success

Food Growing Schools: London teamed up with The London Borough of Bexley’s Public Health Team to highlight the positive impact food growing can have on young peoples mental health and to get more schools to get involved.

We shared details about this session in January, to see more read Promoting healthy lifestyles and mental wellbeing in schools.

The food growing forum was held after school on 29 January at Bexley Civic Council Offices and was a great success.

Ten staff members from various Bexley Primary and Secondary Schools participated in an informative session that considered how school food growing activities can support the mental health needs of pupils.

Lisa Grant, Engagement Officer for Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) writes:

“The Public Health Team in Bexley and I met with in November last year to discuss the idea we had of a jointly run forum/workshop. We wanted to share information about dealing with the struggles that school-life can throw-up by discussing outdoor learning or food growing as a positive outlet for pupils with mental health challenges.  We were thrilled to be able to come together to run this session which was met with positive reviews.”

Pascale, from Bexley Public Health team,  has a background in promoting positive initiatives for dealing with mental health issues. She shared information around the Five Ways to Wellbeing – something she is promoting through assemblies in schools in Bexley..

Lisa from Food growing Schools; London knew that many of the people attending were new to food growing and worked at schools where the outdoor growing space was overgrown or non-existent.  She presented ideas on how to infuse outdoor learning activities linked to promoting mental health initiatives into the school day.The session included attendees making their own paper pot, filling it with compost and sowing a broad bean seed.  This activity was an example of what school staff could engage in with their pupils in a mindful way.

We encouraged everyone to keep in contact with us at Food Growing Schools: London in order for us to let them know what further support we could offer via our online survey. On top of that, we encouraged everyone to sign-up for our regular FGSL Newsletter which includes lots of helpful information including fun competitions and training available throughout London.

Autumn teachers’ Food Growing Forum an all-round success!

Food Growing Schools London teams up with other organisations and councils in boroughs across London to get more schools engaged in growing.

October’s food growing forum held after school hours and hosted at St Andrew’s (Barnsbury) Primary School was a great success. 16 teachers from across Camden and Islington participated in the informative and inspiring session by sharing tips and resources from their food growing journey and initiatives.

Nick Ives, Engagement Officer for Food Growing Schools London (FGSL) writes:

“One of the best things about my role is working with fellow food growing enthusiasts – Marjon Willers, a Specialist Dietitian from the School Improvement Service of Islington is certainly one of those!  We connected in the summer term and agreed to hold some food growing forums for teachers after school in the Autumn and Spring terms. Marjon agreed to find a host school and invite participants, my colleague Lisa Grant and I agreed to facilitate the session.

Our hosts Jacqui and King, from St Andrew’s (Barnsbury) Primary School generously welcomed 16 teachers and ourselves for the after school session which lasted an hour and a half.

To make best use of time we structured the session into four phases and encouraged constructive dialogue throughout:

  • a brief introduction from each participant and an expression of what they wanted to get out of the session
  • a demonstration from Lisa of the key features of the redesigned FGSL website
  • a tour from King and Jacqui of the school growing spaces
  • brief plenary to pull ideas together and agree some actions.

Some participants were new to growing, others more experienced. We had plenty of useful discussions, in which we shared relevant experiences and ideas, as well as sign posting to helpful resources and expertise.  Some hoped to find out what to grow through the winter, others wanted to know how to make the best use of limited concrete growing spaces. As facilitators we made sure that every participant had a chance to get their questions addressed.

We encouraged everyone to keep in contact with us at Food Growing Schools: London – firstly to let us know what further support we can offer via our online survey and secondly to sign up for our regular FGSL Newsletter. We look forward to all meeting up again in the spring to share our growing stories some more.

Feedback

This is what participants were kind enough to say about our forum:

  • ‘Well organized, informal and practical. Plenty of ideas to take forward’
  • ‘I have lots of cross curricular ideas now. More ideas for how to involve children in gardening’
  • ‘Found out what to plant in Winter’
  • ‘It’s great to see how another school is using its space and what they are growing’
Get in touch

Would schools in your borough benefit from a session of sharing and discussion like this one? Find out more, get involved and organise a session in your borough, simply email fgslondon@gardenorganic.org.uk or call 02476217747.