School gardens next target for Jamie Oliver

TV chef will use foundation to launch campaign that aims to integrate food-growing into the primary school curriculum.

Jamie Oliver: TV chef urges support for project
Jamie Oliver: TV chef urges support for project

Jamie Oliver is to launch a campaign designed to get children gardening. The TV chef plans to help children grow and cook food as part of the Jamie's Kitchen Garden Project.

"We want to get gardens in every school in the country. It can be a couple of square metres, it can be a roof garden, it can be decking, in pots or wellie boots - anything that won't move," said Oliver, in a promotional video.

Oliver said the project wants schools to be resourceful. "We've got the ability to work with schools to make growing and cooking effortlessly join into our numeracy, spelling, writing, creative work presentation.

"We're passionate about teaching kids to grow, where food comes from and how it affects our bodies and join it all up with websites and books and recipes and pictures and sumptuousness.

"If we can get gardens, growing and school food working together we have a really potent, inspirational catalyst for change socially to raise our game in food and cooking and health."

Oliver said national and local businesses, parents, governors and children should get involved to make a change for the better. The project would be educational and really fun and could stop Britain from being the most unhealthy country in Europe, he added. "It's a great opportunity for us to come together and do something really amazing."

Oliver's TV campaigns over the past decade, run through his foundation, have included Jamie's School Dinners, which led to the Government establishing the School Food Trust, and 2011's Jamie's Dream School to improve teaching standards.

Oliver is using Orford Primary School in Suffolk to pilot the project. Since March 2009, the kitchen classroom - thought to be a first for a primary school in the UK - has been teaching pupils cooking skills at the same time as core curriculum subjects such as maths, literacy and science.

The project is run by Jamie Oliver's "right-hand woman" Louise Holland and Jamie Oliver Foundation schools project manager Michelle Smith, and it is linked to the charity Eastfeast.

"Orford is like a shining beacon showing the way forward for all primaries," said Oliver. "We hope to roll-out to other primaries next year. If any businesses or community members want to get involved, please get in touch with my foundation."

He has a funding target of £533,000 to roll-out the project nationally. He added: "It is putting it back to how it used to be. I hope it offers a blueprint for the future - every child deserves it."

An Oliver representative said the scheme could replicate truck projects visiting schools in Australia and California but would not begin nationwide this year. He added that conversations were taking place with the garden trade, which hopes that a weekday schools project could link with garden centres at weekends.

Industry View

Sue Allen, chairman, Millbrook Garden Company

"The concept is to get kids to grow and eat food. Jamie's Foundation wanted to link with Garden Re-Leaf but there is not enough time this year. It all links nicely with grow your own and garden centres and it's very exciting."

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