Lee Connelly calls for industry collaboration to revolutionise school gardening education

Connelly, popularly known as The Skinny Jean Gardener, has emerged as a leading advocate for revolutionising school gardening education in the UK.

Connelly (right) at Lords inquiry

As the founder of School Gardening Success, a nationwide project aimed at providing gardening education to primary schools, Connelly passionately believes that exposing children to the joys of gardening not only promotes physical and mental well-being but also lays the foundation for a generation of environmentally conscious individuals.

Connelly's passion for introducing gardening to children gained attention during his evidence before the House of Lords. In May of this year, he emphasised the urgent need to integrate gardening into the educational curriculum, citing the manifold benefits it offers. These benefits extend beyond personal well-being to the wider horticultural and environmental landscape. Experts and witnesses who appeared alongside him echoed similar sentiments, as did actor Jim Carter at the horticultur Parliamentary reception this summer.

This week, Connelly released an open letter addressed, sent in July and yet un-answered to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. In this heartfelt plea, he underscored the toll that recent global events have taken on children's physical and mental health. He argued that by including gardening in the curriculum, children could gain a valuable coping mechanism while learning the importance of growing their own food. This approach could potentially alleviate pressure on healthcare services and public institutions in the long run. Connelly called on the government to take proactive steps at the primary school level, stressing the importance of this transformative endeavor.

Connelly recognises that teachers are eager to incorporate gardening into their teaching methods. However, he acknowledges that enthusiasm alone cannot overcome the obstacles of insufficient support and funding. To address this issue, he implored the Government to allocate additional resources, financial support, and engage in a substantial curriculum restructuring to make horticultural education a standard in all schools.

During a recent video released reading the open letter he said he believes that the entire horticultural industry should come together to bring about a meaningful transformation in school gardening education. Expressing his frustration with fragmented efforts and the lack of progress during meetings with prominent organisations within the sector, Connelly posed a thought-provoking question: "How can our industry enact change or make a significant impact when we struggle to collaborate effectively?"

In response to this challenge, Connelly has initiated the #Growatschool campaign. This movement seeks to unite organisations, brands, and colleagues who share the vision that the future of the industry rests on growing the younger generation's interest in gardening. Through this campaign, Connelly aims to create collaboration, spark meaningful conversations, and bring together the disparate voices in the industry.

See schoolgardeningsuccess.co.uk/growatschool

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