Green-fingered pupils at 11 Croydon schools are set to benefit from a share of a £42,000 School Garden Grant to grow their own food.
The cash will be invested in school projects as part of the ongoing drive to tackle obesity by getting young people in the borough to eat more healthily.
In total, 21 Croydon and Lambeth schools will share the funding pot – from the Mayor of London and Whole Kids Foundation – as part of the Mayor’s Food Flagship programme trialling new ways to reduce the high sugar and salt content in kids’ diets, and boost residents’ skills to cook healthier meals and grow their own food.
The schools will each receive grants ranging between £300 and £3,000 to create or improve edible gardens, which will be used to educate children about the food they eat and help them to lead healthier lives.
Among the school projects in Croydon, St Giles, in Pampisford Road, will receive £3,000 to help provide purpose-built, wheelchair-accessible planting beds, an outdoor shelter for the pupils, and specialist tools. St Giles is a special school for pupils with physical disabilities, complex medical needs and complex speech and language needs. This will be the first edible playground in a special school, and will also benefit from a significant amount of additional funding raised by the charity Trees for Cities.
Shirley High School will receive £799 and is the only secondary school in Croydon that will receive a School Garden Grant. The garden will be primarily tended by food technology students, along with disengaged students. The grant will pay for raised beds, basic tools and equipment along with a small storage shed.
The Food Flagship programme is a UK first with the boroughs making changes to the way food is served in schools, hospitals, and – working with major supermarkets and other retailers – on the high street. The aim is to show that joined-up thinking can improve health and the academic attainment of pupils, and also of adults in the communities they serve.
Councillor Louisa Woodley, cabinet member for families, health and social care
“We’re grateful to the Mayor and Whole Kids Foundation for this additional funding to boost school gardening projects across the borough. Croydon’s special Food Flagship status has helped us to explore new and innovative ways to get residents to fall in love with good food again.
“Children are fascinated about where their food comes from. It’s great to see their enthusiasm for planting, and their joy as the various fruit and vegetables emerge from the ground, with the added bonus of tasting their own fresh, healthy produce.
“The Food Flagship programme is also benefiting our wider communities through cooking, gardening and food-growing initiatives in partnership with local businesses.”