Blog: From conserving fruit to conserving the planet

13 July 2021
The pupils of St Richard’s had no trouble getting to grips with the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill and even brought it up with their MP.

As we see record temperatures, raging storms and even the sea on fire, it’s clear our environment is changing and not for the better. To reaffirm our commitment to sustainability and a planet-friendly food system, School Food Matters has joined the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill Alliance.

Along with friends such as Sustain and well-known names such as the Co-op, The Body Shop and Oxfam, we in the Alliance want to see the Government pass the CEE Bill. It will give us the legal power to tackle the worsening emergency that we are in and can be read here.

Last week, I visited St Richard’s CE Primary School in Richmond, where I discussed the Bill with Year Five children, who were not only interested but already extremely well informed.

We explored the problems facing the planet and what they are up to locally. Great projects such as their walk to school days, air quality monitoring system and clean air demonstrations by the pupils outside of the school brilliantly exemplify the children taking responsibility for the environment.

Year Five wanted to know more about the CEE, the Bill and what they could do.

We talked green energy, fossil fuels and habitat loss. (I was glad to reassure one member of the class that, although global mining and drilling has had many negative effects, their dream of becoming a gold prospector may still hold some hope!) Given that an estimated one third of global emissions result from the food system, and the massive contribution to ecological destruction that intensive farming has, the importance of choosing what goes on our plates was well understood.

“I didn’t know where food comes from can destroy habitats.”

“We need to look after the insects to help all the plants grow.”

Year 5 pupils

St Richard’s children thought about contacting local politicians and letting them know they care. Impressively, the class were able to name their local MP, Sarah Olney, who we decided to invite along to see their market stall.

Last wednesday was market day, and the shoppers of Richmond town centre were treated to a selection of jams and chutneys being sold by children who would have put any team on The Apprentice to shame. The produce had all been locally and responsibly grown, so the marketeers could see an entire, environmentally responsible food system from seed to stall.

Sarah Olney

Councillor Penny Frost and CEE Bill co-sponsor Sarah Olney MP both came to buy some delicious jams and chutneys. With the politicians there, the young salespeople gladly engaged them in conversations about conservation and were pleased to find out their representatives strongly support taking the necessary steps to combat the crises we face.

It was great to see not only entrepreneurial, but politically interested young people speaking about such important issues with people in power. Who knew that selling chutney would provide a platform for political engagement?!

Sean Turner, Policy Officer