TV gardener Chris Collins announces food growing target for London's green fingered kids

Chris Collins, Former Blue Peter Presenter - Food Growing Schools: London

Chris Collins, best known as the former TV Blue Peter gardener, has just announced that the target for London’s biggest food growing count, the ‘Growathon’ has been met. It is estimated that more than 10,000 London pupils are now involved in growing food at school, with the number climbing by the week.

The Growathon challenge started in October 2015 and is part of Garden Organic's Food Growing Schools: London (FGSL) project which brings together the very best of London’s food growing expertise, information and support, with the ambition to inspire and equip every school in London to grow their own food.

The aim of the Growathon was to get 10,000 school children involved in food growing at school, but today Chris Collins announced that having already beaten this target, he and the team at FGSL have now set the ambitious aim of reaching 50,000 school pupils by the end of the Summer.

Rosie Boycott, The Mayor of London's Food Advisor and Chair of the London Food Board said: “We want to see every school in London growing food and we’ve made huge progress, with thousands of 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.”

The Growathon website enables schools, students and growing organisations to share their food growing activities on the Growathon “Carrot Totalizer” and watch as the numbers increase.

From classroom windowsill growers to urban school farm and schools wishing to try growing food for the first time, every school in London is welcome to get involved. Activities such as workshops, lessons, assemblies, events, class projects and school farm visits will all be included. Schools will be able to advertise public growing events on the website to invite other young people to come along. The fantastic Growathon achievement, accomplished by all the London schools that have taken part in the challenge so far, was celebrated on Tuesday 15 March at Argyle School in Camden, during the first of the two Schools Conferences organised by FGSL with the announcement of the brand new target.

The FGSL North London Conference explored a variety of interactive and informative advice and hands-on activities led by London’s school food growing experts. All across London schools, local authorities, public health institutions, parents, teachers and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, are starting to see the incredible benefits of growing food, not only to improve children’s health, but to nurture key life skills across a multitude of curriculum subjects, encourage enterprise skills, improve behaviour, and to connect local communities in supporting them.

After an inspirational welcome from Chris Collins, famous TV gardener and ambassador for lead partner Garden Organic, the schools conference took place with workshops led by a number of the FGSL partner organisations, including Capital Growth and the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, School Food Matters and Trees for Cities. The event was also supported by Chase Organic Gardening catalogue, who provided seeds for delegates, and Abel & Cole, who donated fruit baskets for the conference.

The conference brought together schools from across London to be inspired by the breadth of support available to them in order to grow food. The day included a keynote speech from Chris Collins and a “Gardener’s Question Time” where the audience had the opportunity to get valuable advice from the highly skilled panel. Top tips included how to engage teenagers and how to grow using horse manure in your soil, adapting small spaces and following the seasons in the year.

Chris Collins said: “I am delighted to be the keynote speaker for the Food Growing Schools: London Conferences. I really value the opportunity to share my food growing experience with teachers and younger generations. As a long standing ambassador for Garden Organic, I am always keen to support this kind of initiative and get more schools growing.”

A limited number of places are still available on the next FGSL Schools Conference which will be and Monday 11 April in Southwark. For each conference FGSL is offering 50 free places to the schools worth £150 per delegate. Further information and a booking form can be found at: www.foodgrowingschools.org/events.

Schools can help reach the new Growathon target by signing up and reporting what growing activities their pupils have been involved in by completing a simple online form at: http://www.growathon.org.uk/. London schools can access free support, tips and materials by signing up to Food Growing Schools: London at http://www.foodgrowingschools.org./

Posted: 
Monday, 21 March 2016