RHS backs campaign to give every school child the chance to grow own food

Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins is calling on the Government to give every school child the chance of growing own food.

The campaign highlights the health, educational and environmental benefits of food growing, and calls for it to be incorporated as part of a food education for every child.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is backing the campaign - alongside Garden Organic, Good Gardeners Association and the Children's Food Campaign and chair of London Food Board Rosie Boycott.

A handful of celebrities are also showing their support, including Emmerdale actor Lyndon Ogbourne, children's author Michael Morpurgo and "green" author Dominic Murphy.

The campaigners want the next Secretary of State for Education to ensure that every school has space for food growing, training for teachers, and Ofsted inspections check that food growing is being taught.

Collins said: "I've been fortunate enough to engage children in the fine art of gardening for a number of years now. It is a subject that comes naturally to them. Let us take advantage of this and use the vehicles of growing food and the school environment to improve their lives, both in terms of the food they consume and their physical and spiritual wellbeing."

Rosie Boycott, the chair of London Food Board, said: "It has been shown that kids who grow their own go on to eat more healthily and appreciate good, nourishing food. Many kids in cities like London don't know the magic of seeing a seed flourish into an item you can eat, or even the names of common vegetables. This is what we want to help schools conjure up in London and across the UK to create a nation of micro farms."

Michael Morpurgo, children's author and founder of the Charity Farms for City Children, said: "Children need to connect with the sources of their food. Growing their own produce - in schools, at home, on allotments - is a fine way to achieve this.

Dominic Murphy, author of The Playground Potting Shed: A Foolproof Guide to Gardening with Children, said: "I know plenty of teachers who would love to spend more time helping children learn about growing food, but there's not enough support from the Government and they have to do it in their spare time. The Government makes all the right noises - but too often they rely on volunteers to do the work on the ground."

Jackie Schneider, coordinator of the Children's Food Campaign, said:

"The UK faces huge challenges in addressing both childhood obesity and climate change. At the moment there are some fantastic examples of schools using food-growing to engage their pupils with healthy eating and environmental awareness, yet this is far from the norm, and many children are simply missing out."


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