Benefits of growing fresh fruit and veg in the outdoor classroom

Almost a decade ago, urban greening charity Trees for Cities started working with schools to bring fruit and veg into the outdoor classroom. By learning in an Edible Playground – fully equipped with raised beds, trellising, a greenhouse, composting etc. – children can grow year-round and learn while they are doing so. A year’s worth of expert training for the school comes with the Edible Playground programme and ensures schools are fully equipped to maximise the potential of their space.

The results to date have been outstanding: 93% of Edible Playground teachers say the programme has had positive impacts on children’s attitudes to healthy eating. Kate Bulman, head teacher at Baguley Hall Primary School in Manchester said:

“This is teaching our children what growing our own food means in terms of health and wellbeing and also what it can mean for the sustainability and ecology of our planet.”

The Edible Playgrounds initiative started in London but has since expanded nationwide. Edible Playgrounds have been launched in Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Reading and Liverpool. The charity hopes to next bring the programme to Brighton and Hove and, as a Veg City with famously green credentials; hopefully it won’t be long before the first few Edible Playgrounds are up and running there.

School staff reading this may be thinking: “This sounds great, but what about the funding?”

It is true that many schools are currently struggling to find extra finance, thanks to year-on-year cuts, but help is at hand. Thanks to Trees for Cities’ supporters, such as corporate partner Bulb, funding has been made available to schools. Any shortfall is usually found by a mix of local authority funding (e.g. the Healthy Pupils Capital Fund), the school’s sports or pupil premium, and trust and foundation grants. If schools would like further advice, Trees for Cities are happy to point them in the right direction.

If you know of any schools where pupils would benefit from this initiative, now is the perfect time to express your interest.

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