RHS Welcomes New Scheme to Get All London Schools Growing Food by 2016

Friday 9 August 2013

New project receives £804,994 boost from the Big Lottery Fund

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) welcomes a new project that aims to help every school in London become a food-growing school over the next three years. An £804,994 grant from the Big Lottery Fund will help deliver the ‘Food Growing Schools: London' programme.

The RHS works with more than 1,300 schools in London through its Campaign for School Gardening. This new partnership, led by Garden Organic, includes the RHS, Greater London Authority, Sustains ‘Capital Growth’ project, ‘Food for Life’ Partnership and Morrison’s ‘Let’s Grow’ campaign. The project plans to develop and enhance existing activity in order to embed food growing into every London school.

In 2011–12 the RHS was an Expert Panel member of the Defra-backed ‘Food Growing in Schools Taskforce’, which explored the importance of giving pupils the opportunity to grow food at school. The taskforce looked at examples of best practice and proposed a number of recommendations.* The ‘Food Growing Schools: London’ project is the first realisation of these recommendations and London will be a model for best practice. The ultimate aim is for all UK schools to be food-growing schools and to act as inspiration globally.

The first step will involve a survey of all 2,750 London schools to find out their current growing activity. Then the project will develop actions to support all London schools to increase the effectiveness of their food-growing activities and enhance levels of community engagement. As part of the partnership, the RHS will play an important role in recruiting schools, developing a volunteer network, providing resources and training school staff and teachers.

Sarah Cathcart, RHS Head of Education and Learning, said: “We are delighted that this project has received such a significant grant from the Big Lottery Fund. It will be crucial in helping the partnership led by Garden Organic, to achieve its aim of giving every pupil in London the opportunity of growing food at school. Through the RHS Campaign for School Gardening we support two thirds of all UK schools and more than half of all schools in London and we know that all these schools grow produce.

“Bannockburn Primary School, in Greenwich, for example, is a Campaign for School Gardening school where the RHS has helped teachers convert a neglected roof space into a large growing area to bring gardening to the lives of all its pupils. Growing produce is now a part of everyday life at the school. Pupils are directly involved in the growing process and so understand where their food comes from. Produce is used in school meals to demonstrate the value of good food for a healthy lifestyle, which is important to instil in children at a young age. The school also shares produce with the local community and sells it at Covent Garden Flower Market, teaching pupils important lessons about business, communication and teamwork.

“The aim of the new ‘Food Growing Schools: London’ partnership,” said Sarah, “is to expand on the brilliant work already been done in schools, like Bannockburn, across the capital and to recruit more schools so every London school pupil has the opportunity to grow food at school. It is so important for a variety of reasons that pupils get to grow food at school and the RHS has conducted a number of reports into its benefits to prove this.** Now London can be a model for best practice and we hope the scheme will be rolled out nationally.”

For more information about RHS Campaign for School Gardening, which is a free campaign open to all schools, visit: www.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening  


Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Ed Horne, Press Officer, on 020 7821 3356 or edhorne@rhs.org.uk

*The summary and full ‘Food Growing in Schools Taskforce’ report can be found at: www.gardenorganic.org.uk/foodgrowinginschools

**RHS research, ‘Gardening in School: a vital tool for children’s learning’: http://apps.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening/uploads/documents/RHS-Gardening-in-Schools-Aug10_852.pdf

About the RHS Campaign for School Gardening
The RHS actively involves more than 17,250 schools across the UK in growing and gardening through its Campaign for School Gardening. Children are taught about plants and gardening and their environment. Through gardening they learn about healthy fruit and vegetables, wildlife and important life skills such as teamwork, social skills and co-operation. Huge benefits are to be had from using an outdoor classroom where children can learn in a fun, engaging way. Information, lesson plans and advice for schools is provided online and is backed up by support from the RHS education team and Campaign for School Gardening Regional Advisors. www.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening  

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, the first of our gardens, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 209 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262