Waitrose is set to sell vegetables grown in local schools under a new national scheme backed by gardener Alan Titchmarsh.
The supermarket's new 'grow and sell' initiative aims to encourage green fingers in 7- to 11-year-olds across the UK by helping them grow and sell their own produce.
Every Waitrose branch in the UK will work with four local primary schools who will each receive a seed kit. The kit is designed to get school vegetable patches up and running, and includes seeds, equipment and step-by-step growing instructions. Later in the summer, the branches will invite the schools to sell their home-grown produce outside the store.
Schools will also be able to receive additional seed kits' through the in-store Waitrose community matters scheme, where customers can support a local charity by dropping a green token into the relevant perspex box. The scheme, run in association with the Waitrose farm on the Leckford Estate, will reach 100,000 children.
The national roll-out follows a pilot last year when 20 primary and secondary schools across London worked with 10 Waitrose branches in conjunction with the School Food Matters charity to sell fruit, vegetables, eggs, chutneys and jams.
Waitrose is branching out into the gardening market with the launch of 6,000 products to help customers grow their own flowers, fruit and vegetables.
Titchmarsh said: "Teaching children at an early age about the food they eat and where it comes from is something that I'm very passionate about – we've all read shocking statistics about how many nowadays do not know what chips are made from or that a blackberry is a type of fruit and not just a phone."
Tina Varns, sustainability and ethical sourcing manager at Waitrose, added: "We are really pleased to be rolling this initiative out to all 290 of our branches. Growing at school encourages children to eat well and to go for a wider variety in their food – we believe this is very important as it paves the way for healthy eating."
A review of the curriculum is under way.