Mayor of London gives support to new London schools food growing initiative

Food Growing Schools: London launches on 20th June 2014 bringing together the very best of London’s food growing expertise, with the ambition to inspire every school in London to grow their own food by the end of 2016. Supported by the Mayor of London and the Big Lottery Fund, the launch coincides with recent changes to Government school food policy (School Food Plan, free infant school meals, cooking in the curriculum for all under 14s). Together they point to the significant impact that improvements to school food culture will have on our capital’s long-term stability, health and economic future.

Rosie Boycott, Mayor of London’s Food Advisor and Chair of the London Food Board, said: ‘The Mayor and I want to see every school in London growing food. We’ve made huge progress with many pupils in the capital now reaping the rewards of outdoor learning. This new initiative will help us go further, reaching more schools and helping existing growers expand.’

In London, high rates of childhood obesity (11% in Reception, rising to 22.5% in school Year 6 ) and income deprivation (the highest across English local authorities in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney ) are having an significant impact on school children’s health, behaviour, self-esteem, concentration and ability to participate in school life, impacting on later life and wider society.

However, in 2012 the Food Growing in Schools Taskforce identified that food growing not only benefits health and wellbeing and improves schools, but builds enterprise, employment and life skills for adulthood, and strengthens local communities. When integrated across a whole school approach to learning, and across curriculum subjects, it also identified a significant link between food growing and good and outstanding performance in Ofsted inspections.

Chris Ashley-Jones, Headteacher of Hitherfield Primary School in Lambeth, said: ‘We are a community school and we wholeheartedly believe we are here to serve our community. Developing and using children’s life skills in the community and with local businesses is integral to creating successful citizens.’

Led by Garden Organic, Food Growing Schools: London aims to bring together local communities and schools, connecting them with volunteers, businesses and local authorities in each borough to recognise that food growing in schools can be a powerful catalyst for change. They will be supported to grow by school food growing experts Garden Organic, Capital Growth, Food For Life Partnership, Morrisons (Let’s Grow), Royal Horticultural Society and School Food Matters.

The launch of Food Growing Schools: London takes place at Phoenix High Farm and Learning Zone (www.schoolfoodplan.com/film), in Hammersmith on Friday 20th June, bringing together local authorities, educational institutions, stakeholders and public health leaders to support the project in their boroughs. It will include a welcome address from The Mayor of London’s Food Advisor, Rosie Boycott, the Chair of the London Food Board, and lead partner Garden Organic. They will be joined by Master Chef winner Thomasina Miers, and Ben Tish, Founder and Head Chef of Saltyard Restaurant Group will be providing delicious food.

There will also be activities to mark the first campaign, Grow Your Own Picnic. including a picnic lunch and food growing demonstrations. Thomasina Miers, Masterchef Winner and Wahaca Founder, said: ‘I'm a strong believer in getting more people into food and cooking. Teaching young people to grow and love food is the beginning of a better future for London - creating employment, a better community spirit, radically improved health and a more sustainable future for us all.’

London schools and volunteers will have access to a Food Growing Schools: London online hub, packed full of free food growing advice, case studies and learning resources (lesson plans, curriculum links and activity sheets), and exclusive training opportunities, competitions and offers. Each term London schools will be supported to grow their own food culminating in a termly Grow Your Own celebration event, including Grow Your Own Business and Grow Around the World. The first event, Grow Your Own Picnic takes place on Empty Classroom Day on Friday 20th June 2014.

London schools can sign up for food growing support by registering free on www.foodgrowingschools.org.

Twitter: FoodGrowSchools

Food Growing Schools: London is led by Garden Organic who have been working with schools for over 20 years. Find out more at www.gardenorganic.org.uk

Useful Links
Food Growing in Schools Taskforce Report (2012) – www.foodgrowingschools.org/challenge/research/
School Food Plan - www.schoolfoodplan.com
National Curriculum – Cooking and Nutrition www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-design...
Empty Classroom Day - www.projectdirt.com/project/7832


Share this