When my grandad said that his allotment committee were heading out to local primary schools to set up vegetable plots in corners of school fields, I had no idea how much of national project this had become. There are hundreds of amazing schemes going on to reconnect our children and communities with where their food comes from and how to grow it. Below are just a few of them, some funded by the Big Lottery Local Food programme that ran from 2009-2014.
It was an edible bus stop at Crystal Palace Bus Station that won first prize at the City of London Growing Locality Awards last year. The original one created in Brixton has been said to have “resulted in a considerable improvement in the way people use the gardened spaces; litter and anti-social behaviour have been significantly reduced”. Runners up included Ripple Primary School for their outdoor classroom and nature garden, Headway East London and their Growing for Life project for brain injury survivors and Forty Hall Community Vineyard as a renovated farm for vulnerable people in deprived communities. This last project has already meant participants benefitting from “improved psychological and physical health and well-being, improved communication and vocational skills as well as greater employability.”
The Royal Horticultural Society’s School Gardening Awards provide 5 levels of progression for schools to work through: Plan it, Grow it, Build on it, Know it, Share it. Practical and generous prizes are then awarded at each stage (see link below for how to get involved). There are some great opportunities for enterprising, numeracy and literacy too. The Tees Wildlife Trust is also helping schools, this time in Hartlepool, to set up a whole range of different gardening projects, from traditional raised beds and allotment patches, to orchards and African gardens.
The Eastfeast project in Waveney, Suffolk is aiming to “develop an understanding of the impact of local food on health, wellbeing and economic prosperity to produce a shift change in behaviour through the generations and community in Waveney.” It has already involved more than a thousand people in the process of growing, cooking and sharing local food.
The Big Lottery Local Food project may have finished last year, but its impact on our communities and young people is clearly still growing!
Rachel Wallace is a former English teacher and KS3/4 Leader. Easyread is an online intervention for children with reading difficulties, dyslexia, auditory processing problems and more. www.oxfordlearningsolutions.com