Call for national Garden Olympics

The "Gardening Olympics" could be a nationwide event involving tens of thousands of primary school children, according to East Staffordshire Borough Council horticultural officer Paul Steed.

Steed, who launched the event two years ago, said: "I would love other local authorities to follow our lead, perhaps leading to a national inter-county Gardening Olympics. It would be marvellous to see this linked with the 2012 Olympics."

The schools and community horticultural officer has developed the schools gardening project over the past three years to promote healthy eating and vegetable growing. TV gardener Christine Walkden is a backer of the event.

The Gardening Olympics is designed to attract families and includes 1,000 children from 22 schools. This year's event includes healthy food preparation displays, sport and games.

Steed said: "We are the only council doing this because when I was co-ordinating gardening programmes for schools that inspired me to invent the idea."

Each pupil gets an activity book on healthy eating, seeds and advice so that they can grow their own plants and bring them back for a competition in July.

At the competition, events such as a carrot relay race and cabbage shot putt run alongside a more traditional vegetable competition.

Steed added: "This year's event should be bigger than ever with plant stalls, the local choir and food preparation demonstrations with the plants grown by the schools."

The Gardening Olympics will be held at Shobnall Leisure Complex, Burton-on-Trent, on 26 June.

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