by Dig Merton Project Leader Michelle Kolattek
During the Spring/Summer term, Sustainable Merton worked with five schools in the east of the borough, to either start them off with growing food at school or to develop existing garden plots.
Over 100 students from Beecholme, Lonesome, William Morris, Stanford and Links Primary Schools took part in the scheme, where teachers, parents and local residents joined in and got their hands dirty! During the sessions, students and other participants gained gardening skills and confidence that they can pass on to other students, with the aim of keeping their gardens blossoming for years to come. Emphasis was put on the life cycle of plants and the importance of composting and healthy soil. The children had the opportunity to learn that different plant families take different nutrients out of the soil. We discussed how nutrient rich soil is necessary for healthy crops, and how to achieve this through crop rotation and composting.
We also covered the benefits of recycling food waste at home using Merton’s food waste service, and compared it with home composting, which could help feed their plants at school. The holistic nature of gardening was also emphasised through introducing bird boxes and feeders to each school. Sessions took place one afternoon a week at each of the schools mentioned.
Our Schools Food Growing Project is funded by Public Health (Merton Council). It is an excellent opportunity to gage just how keen and enthusiastic students are to grow their own food. What better way for children in the borough to understand where their food comes from and how much energy goes into producing it, than by growing it from seed to plate!