head of schools and youth
Have you ever grown a rather sorry-looking stalk of sprouts, or the world’s tiniest carrot, yet still felt a glowing sense of pride in what you’ve produced? More importantly, by doing so you’ll have also gained a better understanding of the real value of our food.
Helping young people (as well as teachers and parents) develop this kind of connection with nature and with the food they eat was the inspiration behind Plant2Plate – an initiative we launched this year to broaden and reinvigorate our Green Ambassadors scheme.
Green Ambassadors has been really successful in encouraging and supporting young people to take action on sustainability issues. Over the past few years it’s been embraced by more than 6,000 schools right across the UK.
We’d noticed how keen many of the participating schools were to have a go at growing. We were aware of good links in the primary schools curriculum to cooking. And through our Livewell work, we’ve been trying to communicate and address the sustainability issues associated with food choices and production. So, through Plant2Plate, we connected all these strands.
It’s proved a win-win-win. It takes learning outdoors, promotes life skills, develops an understanding of sustainability. And it adds another vital ingredient – enjoyment.
Making things fun is a really effective way of learning. Even when the underlying messages are serious ones: that the way we grow and process food contributes substantially to climate change and biodiversity loss. And that globally, a third of the food that’s grown is wasted; and in the UK we throw away a third of the food we buy.
Helping young people to appreciate the real value of that food – by encouraging them to have a hand in growing and cooking it themselves – is one way we’re promoting more sustainable food choices.
During the year, we’ve provided loads of inspiration and ideas to encourage children, teachers and parents to have a go at growing and cooking food that’s healthy for them – and for the planet, too.
Our ‘Easy Peasy Pea Challenge’ got schools growing peas and sharing their recipes on social media. We produced a growing calendar that outlines when to sow, tend and harvest various veg. We generated a great curriculum resource, ‘Food for Thought’. And we published a lovely storybook called ‘Smith and the healthy meter’.
What’s more, thanks to our partnership with Alpro and the Guardian, we’ve been able to showcase the work of some of the fantastic schools we get to work with, who’ve been doing amazing things in relation to food and sustainability. This content has been seen by thousands more teachers, which has been a really successful way of getting even more schools engaged in the topic.
I’ve been lucky enough during the year to visit some of the schools where some truly inspiring work is being done. It’s a genuine privilege to witness the next generation getting a great opportunity to develop their passion for the natural world.
All in all, Plant2Plate has been a fabulous experience – one that’s been even more rewarding than growing those sorry-looking sprouts!