Blog: Students in Gloucestershire grow veg to feed those in need

14 June 2021
It is Healthy Eating Week, and our Young Marketeers programme, which teaches children about the origins of good food, is progressing well across the country.

Project officer, Ruth Quinlan has shared what students have been getting up to in Gloucestershire.

It’s really lovely to be getting into school gardens, and seeing so much enthusiasm and action from the teachers and pupils. Previously I’ve taught cooking in London schools. You still have to be organised, but gardening is a bit more free-style and you’re accompanied by birdsong!

I feel that food growing has multiple benefits for children. At one of our sessions in March, a nine year old observed sagely whilst sowing rocket, 'This is really calming'.

Growing

This programme gets children outdoors and learning about growing. They then go on to sell their produce at a local market, picking up some entrepreneurial skills along the way. Four primary schools in Stroud and Stonehouse have signed up, and are busy sowing, weeding, planting and watering. Some early harvesting of lettuces has already taken place and the children are finding out that things don’t always go as you hope, but that plants are beautiful things and their designs and life cycles are interesting, and hopefully, fruitful! Leonard Stanley School had their Cherokee Trail of Tears bean plants decimated by snails. So they brought in egg shells, which they broke up and spread around the plants as a deterrent. Next, a fox buried a half-eaten carcass under the tomato plants and came back for a snack, causing double damage! He and his snack have gone, thankfully, and I’m taking some more tomato plants there today.

Children outdoors

The money the students raise from the sale of their veg will be given to The Long Table, a local charity that trains young chefs and fights hunger and loneliness by providing ready meals and dinners on a huge, companionable trestle table (when covid regulations allow). The next school outing will be here. We’ve timed our visit to coincide with maximum cooking activity, just before lunch starts! 

The final element of the programme, after a watering rota keeps the plants healthy over the summer holidays, is to set up stalls at Stroud Market where pupils will sell their school-grown produce and show off their enterprise skills.

Young Marketeers brings together young people, market traders, gardeners, seed champions and chefs. Numeracy, business skills, a love of the outdoors, growing skills, plant and bug knowledge and resilience are nurtured in the pupils, as they nurture their gardens.  

One teacher commented: 'This project has everything from the curriculum. Design, creativity, mental arithmetic, nature and science!'

Planting