THIS year I launched the Food Growing in Schools Task Force, led by Garden Organic and backed by Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins, former England rugby union captain Lawrence Dallaglio, The Sun’s gardening correspondent Peter Seabrook, the Royal Horticultural Society, the Women’s Institute, and Morrisons supermarket. I think that’s a fair representation of supporters!
Fewer than half of the nation’s secondary schools are involved in growing schemes, so children are missing out on a growth opportunity.
Getting kids to grow their own fruit and vegetables not only teaches them where food comes from and the importance of eating healthily but it can also teach them enterprise skills and building community spirit.
That’s why I am encouraging every school to be a growing school.
The Task Force will look at schools that are already running successful growing schemes and find out what’s preventing other schools following their lead.
This is the time of the year when heads and teachers plan ahead so it is a good opportunity to see how growing food in their schools could be achieved.
I would also like to encourage as many people as possible to have a go at growing some of their own vegetables and fruit at home too, even if it’s just lettuce on a window sill or tomatoes outside the back door in a growbag.
This certainly gives children a hobby, while being productive at the same time.
Over 96 per cent of children do not eat the recommended levels of fruit and vegetables (NDNS report 2000). A 2010 report for the Royal Horticultural Society found that vegetable intake was almost one serving per day greater in schools with a growing food curriculum, and combined fruit and vegetable consumption increased by one and a half servings.
So you can see why I’m so keen for kids to learn the basics and develop an interest in - even a passion for - growing their own. More information and a full list of Task Force members are available at: www.gardenorganic.org.uk/foodgrowinginschools.