Being outdoors enjoying nature isn’t readily available for many children living in inner London. So ten years ago, Pooles Park school launched its Environmental Education Project to offer local children the opportunity to connect with nature by growing produce in the school garden. Growing Global Food grew out of this initial project, enabling it to expand and reach many more people who don’t have gardening opportunities.
The majority of young participants live on two large local estates and don’t have gardens. This project gives them the chance to discover and enjoy green spaces, which boosts their health and happiness. It also gives skills and knowledge they can use throughout their lives. They learn how to nurture plants and develop respect for wildlife, and also have the chance to grow and eat organic food, so their nutrition is improved. As well as providing communal activities, the project leases out four raised bed plots to families, enabling parents and children to grow their own organic food together. It is also creating an attractive habitat for local wildlife.
The project helps everyone develop a shared sense of responsibility for their environment, especially the young Environment Team monitors who provide good role models for their peer group. It also gives young and old the chance to work together and thus fosters good relationships between generations. A further benefit is that the workshops teach adults new skills, such as how to grow organic food in limited spaces at home. The project has been such a hit that other schools have been motivated to set up their own projects. The two trainees that were funded by the Lottery grant have been inspired to carry on their careers in this field; one has gained employment in two other schools delivering similar projects and the other is currently setting up her own community project.