Prince Charles praises food-growing at college

Healthy-eating approach beginning in school gardens held up as an example that could be rolled out across the country.

Prince Charles visited the college - image: Carshalton
Prince Charles visited the college - image: Carshalton

A college's transformation to healthy eating that began with growing in the school gardens can be rolled out to offices, hospitals and other schools nationwide, according to Prince Charles, TV chef Jamie Oliver and Garden Organic.

Prince Charles and Oliver saw a food technology lesson at Carshalton Boys Sports College, visited the cafeteria, met students tending the school chickens and visited the "Mud Club" growing food in the school playground.

They said it is possible to create positive change in food education through rolling out the Carshalton model throughout the UK.

Soil Association patron Prince Charles is a supporter of the Food For Life Partnership, which brings together the Soil Association, Garden Organic, Focus on Food and the Health Education Trust to transform school food culture.

Garden Organic's Food growing in schools task force released a report exploring how schools could take better advantage of practical food education activity in February. The task force, supported by Defra, made a series of recommendations last year for Government, schools and key organisations.

The Carshalton college has attained Food for Life Partnership Silver status. The school appointed a full time chef and there is now 90 per cent take-up of school lunches. The schools serves 1,100 hot meals daily.

Oliver said: "What we need is every school in the country, every hospital every old people's home, every business to get involved. This is just one place where the whole food approach works.

"Don't be put of by the middle-class expression of 'foodie, foodie' stuff - this is all about good health. If you have great health you have great learners and teachers, and in times of recession I'd like to extend this to any business in Britain."

He told HW that his Jamie's Kitchen Garden Project (19 February) is still tiny because it is being trialled at only two schools, although more are set to join in 2013. Oliver said it is in cooking rather than gardening where he could make a difference to children's health.

Prince Charles said: "Schools, colleges, workplaces and hospitals can follow the Food for Life programme and improve the quality of what they serve. The food growing in schools task force does show the value of learning about gardening and success in the classroom. Growing food quite literally brings these subjects to life."

Garden Organic chief executive Myles Bremner said the "power of taking that holistic approach to school food" can tackle inequalities, improve education and "goes beyond the school into the wider community not least supporting local jobs and the economy." However, he added that the challenge is to "make every school a food-growing school".

Greenfingered Kids Food grown for centre

Woodcote Green Garden Centre based in Wallington, Surrey, works with Carshalton Boys Sports College through its Greenfingered Kids project.

Woodcote farm shop manager James Woodham explained that the voucher scheme is more difficult to get going in secondary schools but said it works well at Carshalton because it is such a good example of a school that grows food.

The centre now has a 3ha field growing food to sell in the farm shop and restaurant.

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