School playgrounds go edible

 

Pupils at four Croydon schools can begin munching on the fresh produce they cultivated in their playgrounds thanks to funding from the charity Trees for Cities.

Vibrant outdoor spaces that teach children about growing fruit and vegetables have been created under the Edible Playgrounds banner in Rockmount Primary, Fairchildes Primary and Meridian High – the borough’s food flagship schools – as well as St Giles’ School.

The new playgrounds aim to instil healthy eating habits at an early age to help tackle obesity and food poverty, and create opportunities for pupils to learn more about nature in a fun and engaging environment.

Trees for Cities worked with each school to create an area with raised beds, allotments, a fruit tree orchard and an outside teaching space. Earlier this year, the children prepared the soil, began sowing seeds and potted plants to grow strawberries, tomatoes, green beans and other produce to be ready in time for the summer.

Partnerships were also formed with School Food Matters, which supports schools to achieve a Food for Life award, and Chefs Adopt a School, which provides chefs who cook the edible playground produce with pupils.

The children’s learning is incorporated with the ongoing work of Croydon’s food flagship programme in schools, supported by the Mayor of London to develop a whole-school approach to healthy eating.

On Tuesday, 28 June at 2.30pm, Councillor Louisa Woodley, cabinet member for families, health and social care, and Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning, will officially open the shared edible playground at the adjoining Fairchildes Primary and Meridian High schools in Fairchildes Avenue, New Addington.

They will be joined by school governors, parents and children, residents and community representatives.

The schools’ playgrounds have been kindly supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the Tesco Bags of Help scheme, and international insurance company Marsh.

Councillor Louisa Woodley, cabinet member for families, health and social care

“We are grateful to Trees for Cities and its partners for the opportunity to create these amazing edible playgrounds in Croydon schools. Together with the borough’s food flagship programme, this initiative helps local children to better understand the importance of eating nutritious, healthy food.

“It will be great to explore the new playgrounds and also to hear from the children about the different produce they are growing, as well as how they are cultivating the space to enable new crops to grow.”

Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children,  young people and learning

“This is a great learning opportunity for children to thrive in this new and innovative playground environment. The excitement of being able to actually undertake some planting and sow seeds will help them combine the key elements of growing, cooking, and learning about eating fresh fruit and vegetables.

“I am particularly looking forward to seeing the transformation at Meridian High as the last time I visited the work had not yet begun. We hope that even more Croydon schools will have the opportunity to build an edible playground in the future.”

David Elliott, chief executive of Trees for Cities, said: “Our Edible Playground community is growing across the country, addressing several key areas of concern around children’s health. The community teaches pupils about nutrition, encourages physical activity, and shows that healthy food can be the easy choice, in and out of school. Edible Playgrounds are part of our overall commitment to green communities across London boroughs.”

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