SOWING SEEDS FOR THE FUTURE: MANORFIELD'S URBAN GARDEN
Manorfield Primary students develop a market stall selling school-grown produce to raise money for a food-waste charity
Over the past year, Manorfield students – with the help of our resident gardener Holly Martin – have transformed a disused space in the school’s playground into a vibrant urban garden where a variety of plants and edibles are grown. Now students are preparing for a springtime harvest in order to sell the produce they’ve grown at their own market stall, with all the funds raised going to FareShare, a leading UK charity combating food waste by saving and redistributing surplus produce to those in need.
Educating young people on the environment is more important than ever: children today will be inheriting an ever more complex and environmentally fraught planet and we know it’s crucial that students be well-informed and engaged with the world they live in, the resources they rely on and the kinds of food they eat. Alongside excursions to the nearby Teviot Community Centre, where students have been helping to plant crops and build a greenhouse, a large and fruitful part of the outdoors education at Manorfield has involved the development and caring for of the school garden, where students have nurtured, harvested and learnt to cook (and enjoy!) the food they’ve grown from seeds.
This month students have already picked luscious green salad leaves as well as mint, chives and edible flowers: we’ve seen that our children are much more likely to eat fresh, healthy greens when they’ve grown and picked them themselves, proving that the development of a young person’s taste can be influenced through exposure to the hands-on nurturing of the food they then consume. Last week students headed out to harvest the first of this year’s broad bean crop, helping to teach them an awareness of the cycles of seasonal produce and at what point it’s best to buy different fruits and vegetables at supermarkets.
At the very beginning of May, two students from Paris class in Year 5 went along to traders’ training at Borough Market in Southwark to gain some first-hand expertise on the management of the market stall the students will be running in July. There they learnt the best way to sow seeds, got some great green-fingered growing tips and were let in on all the tricks of the trade, equipping them with that all-important business savvy that will help them and their classmates to raise the best amount of money possible for FareShare. Last week saw a trip to FareShare’s depot in Deptford, where students were able to witness for themselves not only the amount of surplus food that gets wasted around the city, but also the terrific work the charity does in saving and re-distributing it, all serving to connect the children ever more firmly with systems of food production and consumption. At the end of the trip the children helped to choose and put together an order to deliver to one of the many projects, such as community cafes, homeless hostels and children’s breakfast clubs, that the charity help provide food for.
When Manorfield held our last stall in October, pupils raised close to £500 for Fareshare by selling their carefully grown produce, and this coming July we’re looking to raise even more. The exercise is a fantastic way to bring to life the relationship between food growing and food as commodity for our students, as well as having numerous interlinking benefits such as the development of mathematics (pupils deal with the exchange of cash and prepare market research to evaluate fair prices for the fruit and veg they’ve produced) and the boosting of confidence – last time the students proved themselves natural entrepreneurs and were great at approaching passers-by, which helped business along greatly!
This year we’re planning to sell an even greater variety of crops including black, white and redcurrants, berries, cherries and plums, spinaches, runner beans and radishes as well as lettuces, onions, even some key kitchen herbs: do drop by to see for yourself what miraculous goods Manorfield pupils have grown in their own urban garden this year.
For more information on Fareshare and the wonderful work they do, visit the website: http://fareshare.org.uk/
To learn more about the Teviot Centre, see: https://www.poplarharca.co.uk/community/community-centres/teviot-centre
and to follow Holly Martin on Twitter, head to: https://twitter.com/FoodGrowerHolly