Monday 2 October 2017
• Over 1,000 schools and youth groups to cook up a storm using the veg they’ve grown in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Big Soup Share
• Week of events marks ten years of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening
• Survey finds four in five schools have used gardening to improve mental wellbeing
A pupil at Columbia Primary School in London harvest vegetables from their garden and prepare soup to share with friends and family
More than1,000 schools and youth groups across the UK will be taking their vegetable harvest from bed to bowl for the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Big Soup Share, a week of events (2 to 8 October) to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening.
The week will see over 75,000 green-fingered 3 to 18-year-olds harvesting their produce from the garden, devising delicious soup recipes and cooking up a feast to share with their classmates, friends, family and local community.
Since its launch in 2007, the RHS Campaign for School Gardening has called for all children to be given the chance to garden, to support their learning and wellbeing and inspire them in future careers. Ten years on, 69% of primary schools and 79% of secondary schools are now signed-up to receive free resources and support from the RHS.
A survey of these schools to mark the milestone, found that 96% reported gardening had enabled young people to connect with nature, and 83% and 82% of schools felt it had improved the mental and physical wellbeing of young people respectively. Other benefits cited were helping youngsters to develop a wide range of skills (91%) and actively green the environment (89%).
While some schools are starting to feel the pinch, with 61% of schools experiencing funding challenges, two in every five schools (40%) are using their garden as a source of income; selling plants to plough money back into the school.
This enterprising spirit also transcends to finding space to garden, with schools making use not only of small plots of land but hanging baskets and window boxes (22%) and indoor growing spaces (14%) too. With this in mind, the RHS is calling on every school to get growing this school year.
Andrea Van-Sittart, RHS Head of Community Outreach, said: “The RHS Campaign for School Gardening has gone from strength to strength in its first ten years. I’m delighted that over 34,000 schools and groups have joined the campaign, giving around six million children and young people the chance to garden.
“Not only is gardening a fantastic way of bringing the curriculum alive, it helps to get young people outdoors in the fresh air to improve their wellbeing. They’re encouraged to be active, spend time relaxing and enjoy all the health benefits of being immersed in nature. We’d love to see every school reap the many rewards of gardening.”
Ingrid Chen, gardening lead at Columbia Primary School, added: “Our children love the school’s edible garden and have got stuck into all sorts of tasks with gusto: from raising tiny seedlings to harvesting crops; sorting worms from compost, to cooking home grown feasts to share with neighbours.
“We started with a patch of grass just over two years ago and have built and improved this garden with help from pupils, their families and more recently the wider local community. It's a fantastic resource to enhance classroom based activities in all areas of learning, as well as a lovely opportunity for children to care for a green space and observe nature which many do not otherwise have. It’s now a community hub, and hopefully the launch pad for the next generation of gardeners.”
Notes to editors
Images, comment and interviews are available on request. For more information please contact Laura Scruby on 020 7821 3060 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:
A survey was sent to members of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening which received 873 completed responses, of which 636 responses were from schools. Other groups signed up to the campaign include youth groups. The results included in the press release are for schools only. The survey was completed in June 2017.
About the RHS Campaign for School Gardening
The RHS Campaign for School Gardening actively involves over 34,000 schools and groups across the UK in growing and 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. Using an outdoor classroom where children can learn in a fun, engaging way provides huge benefits. Information, lesson plans and advice for schools is provided online and is backed up by support from the RHS Education team and RHS Campaign for School Gardening Regional Advisors.
Schools and youth organisations can sign up to RHS Campaign for School Gardening online: www.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening
About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.
We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, 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. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.
The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join
RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262