Little farmers at St Andrew’s grow food for their kitchen

30/07/2009 - 00:00
As one of the very first Food for Life Partnership Silver Schools, St Andrew’s is a shining example of a school that just does everything really well in their quest to transform their own food culture.

Within the Food for Life Partnership St Andrew's is rather famous for its farm link with Green Acres farm. Headteacher Adrian Marsh says: "We are very lucky that Mark Lea, a local organic farmer and parent at the school has helped us with our beliefs in creating a whole school experience around healthy living and eating healthily. "With Mark's help, the children have created a thriving growing area which has resulted, for the past two years, in children growing enough vegetables for all the school to enjoy at lunchtimes." One of the classes visits the farm six times a year. The seven and eight year olds complete a whole programme of study looking at seasonal change. Other children visit the farm for specific projects. The school has always been committed to a cross-curricular approach and the children are taught parts of the science, geography, literacy, numeracy and ICT curriculum through a real-life situation approach. For example, a range of numeracy and science objectives are met through the monitoring of the weight and growth of the chicks as they turn into hens; children write-up instructions as to how they carry out composting duties and maps of the farm are used for examination of how co-ordinates can be used. Older children have made their own video, entitled "Peas on a Plate" about the values of growing organic vegetables and they have also produced written and web-based information leaflets about the farm. The farm visits have strengthened the children's interest in growing and – besides growing vegetables in the school garden and at Green Acres farm - over 70 of the pupils are growing something at home and recording the results. The produce from the school garden is used in the cooking club and the recipes from the cooking club are put up on the school's website to encourage the children to cook them at home with their parents. Another aspect of the Food for Life Partnership St Andrew's is particularly well-known for is its SNAG (School Nutrition Action Group). The SNAG was set up with the help of the Health Education Trust to create a whole school food policy and action plan and St Andrew's has been brilliant at recruiting lots of staff, governors and children for the group. The pupils are incredibly involved and always take a very active part in any decision-making. Gemma Vale, who was re-elected to represent her class for the SNAG committee said: "I really like gardening and Food for Life Partnership has helped me to help others to enjoy gardening, too. I think the school has become more aware of healthy living. School dinners are really tasty, different every day and I look forward to eating them." FACTS: School meal uptake is 70% The growing activities are led by an accredited organic farmer and a parent with a degree in Environmental Sciences. Teaching Assistants assisting with the cooking club have undertaken recent degree level training in Early Child Care meeting all health and safety requirements.

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