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The positive impact of growing and gardening in schools

Addressing the decline of food education in schools.

A group of students growing plants at school
Gardening in schools can have a positive impact on children's development

In a report for Garden Organic, the national charity for organic growing, Elisabeth Barratt Hacking, Professor William Scott and Elsa Lee looked at the impact of growing food as part of a broader food education programme in schools. The report used in depth case studies of nine schools across England from over 4,500 schools involved in the Food for Life Partnership (FFLP) programme (a whole school food education programme that aims to transform school food culture).The nine schools included early years, primary, secondary and special schools - each of which was growing food as part of the FFLP programme.

The report showed that growing inspired students, school staff and the local community to live more sustainably illustrating five key benefits:

  • acquiring skills and knowledge
  • understanding and appreciating the environment
  • improving health and wellbeing
  • encouraging positive values and behaviours
  • increasing participation in school and the wider community

The five benefits are illustrated by our case studies showcasing the impressive way these schools embedded growing activities into their food education work. The report is disseminated by Garden Organic and the FFLP through 'Growing our Future', and has been used to lobby for more opportunities for growing in schools and in their activities for schools.

The Defra backed Food Growing in Schools Taskforce (2012) used our findings to argue for more growing in schools in England; this led to Garden Organic receiving Big Lottery Funding for the Food Growing Schools: London project, which will support every school in London to become a food-growing school. There is potential for such schemes to be rolled out nationally.