Every school should have a garden: Taking our mission to RHS Chelsea Flower Show

18 May 2023
• School gardens a vital resource for child mental health and wellbeing
• New charity s​urvey shows children want more ‘green time’ and less ‘screen time’​, and m​​​​ore than one in three children have never seen fruit or vegetables growing
• The climate resilient ‘edimentals’ garden will be relocated to two primary schools after the s​how

School Food Matters, the charity which teaches children about food and campaigns for healthy, sustainable school meals, is partnering with designer Harry Holding to create an edible, climate resilient garden, with children at its heart, for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023.

Raising vital questions about healthy eating and the future of food production in a changing climate, the garden highlight​s​ why children need to be represented in these discussions. At the end of show week, The School Food Matters Garden will continue to provide social and environmental benefits when it is repurposed to create two pocket gardens - one at a school in London, the other at a school in Liverpool – for children to nurture and enjoy for years to come.

The School Food Matters Garden is in the All About Plants category (GPB019 in The Pavilion) at the world-famous event and is being funded by Project Giving Back, with support from Whole Kids Foundation. It will celebrate 15 years of School Food Matters food education programmes which have reached over 211,000 children across the UK.

​​The charity’s experience working in schools echoes the findings of educators, child health, and nutrition experts, that time spent in nature brings multiple benefits. A recent survey carried out by the charity gives a child’s perspective. Attracting almost 500 responses, the survey revealed that more than half the children (primary and secondary) wanted time out in nature as a reward at school, rather than more time spent at a computer screen. Two in three students felt they didn’t get enough time out in nature, and wanted more, while more than a third (37%) had never seen fruit or vegetables growing.

Designed as an immersive, forageable and naturalistic landscape, the School Food Matters Garden entices children to explore, inspiring them with a variety of edible, climate resilient plants along the way. The aim is to stimulate their senses and encourage them to learn about food in nature, with over 80% of the planting being edible.​​

A pomegranate tree represents nature’s bounty; wild strawberries, asparagus, artichokes, and herbs are nods to more traditional produce, whilst king’s spear, sea kale and dame’s rocket highlight more unusual edible plants.  The child-sized paths lead to a central area, featuring tactile rammed earth walls that are beautifully painted with quotes from pupils at the London and Liverpool schools – a place to air how much nature means to them. ​​Most of the planting in the School Food Matters Garden is drought tolerant and resilient for a changing climate. Contrastingly, a natural ‘seasonally wet’ pool shows the realities of British winters and highlights the need to plant appropriately.​

School Food Matters Chief Executive Stephanie Slater said:

“Nutritious food, a healthy planet and access to nature are fundamental rights every child should enjoy. The School Food Matters Garden celebrates all the pleasure, and physical and mental health benefits children get from time spent in nature. It echoes our mission to give every child the knowledge and understanding they need to feed themselves and their future families, while caring for the planet.

 “We’ve helped thousands of schools across the UK create beautiful gardens and the impact this has cannot be underestimated. Many children do not have gardens at home, have no understanding of where food comes from and little opportunity to connect with fresh food by growing their own fruit and veg. Spending time in a garden, getting muddy and seeing how plants grow has a remarkable impact on self-confidence, as well as an inclination to eat more fruit and veg. For some it provides a much-needed moment of peace away from the noise and pressures of the classroom. With the generous support of partners and funders we can ensure many more children have this experience.”

Harry Holding, Director of Harry Holding Studio, said:

“Our School Food Matters Garden moves far away from plastic wrapped vegetables to show children just how much nature can provide and that there is real joy and beauty in growing your own food. It’s also mindful of our changing climate and the future impact that will have on children, an important message for us all.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors 

  • For information on the charity or images contact the School Food Matters media team: Charlotte Borger press@schoolfoodmatters.org

  • Follow #OurEdibleClassroom on social media. 

  • For Harry Holding or detail on the garden design please contact Emma Mason on emma@emmamasonpr.co.uk

  • School Food Matters (SFM) exists to teach children about food and campaigns for healthy, sustainable school meals. The charity provides fully funded food education programmes to schools and uses its 15 years’ experience delivering these programmes to inform and strengthen its campaigns, bringing the voices of children, parents and teachers to government policy.  

  • Harry Holding is a multi-award-winning designer whose design practice Harry Holding Studio, has sustainability and resilience at the core of everything they do. All the way from innovative design concepts to aftercare practices they aim to minimise environmental impact and carbon footprint. Sourcing materials locally and designing resilient plant communities to create rich, biodiverse ecosystems, their gardens are designed to last and enhance the lives of their clients and the natural world. Find out more here.  

  • Project Giving Back (PGB) is a unique grant-making scheme that provides funding for gardens for good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. PGB was launched in May 2021 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on UK charitable fundraising. It will fund gardens inspired by a range of good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2022, 2023 and 2024. PGB will fund 15 gardens at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2023. In total, PGB plans to fund 42 gardens at the show from 2022 – 2024. (Applications for 2022 and 2023 are now closed.) 

  • Whole Kids Foundation: Whole Kids Foundation (WKF) is a charitable organisation based in Austin Texas that provides children with access to healthy food through partnerships with schools, educators and charities. It was set up in 2011 by Whole Foods Market, the organic and natural food retailer, to help address the growing health problems relating to bad nutrition amongst young people.