A new project, being launched in June, aims to encourage young children to grow and nurture edible plants in their playgrounds. Named The Edible Playground the project currently involves four schools in Dorset; Beaucroft in Wimborne, Thornford Primary, Charmouth Primary and Witchampton Primary. Children from each school will be digging, planting, watering and nurturing edible plants in their playgrounds throughout the next few months and then some will get the chance to work with local chefs to prepare and eat the results.
Mike Burks of The Gardens Group, which is sponsoring The Edible Playground project, explained; "This project is a really practical way to get children to connect with the food they are eating - they're not simply being presented with a pile of food and then cooking it. They are improving the soil in plots in their playgrounds, choosing seed varieties, planting, feeding and watering and really learning how food grows before they finally cook and eat it. It is a pleasure to be involved with a project which is practical and hands-on and we look forward to seeing the results."
Each school had a wish list of equipment including compost, gardening tools, seeds, herb plants, watering cans and troughs which were supplied to project co-ordinator Nichola Motley. "The children will be growing lots of different varieties of herbs, lettuces, tomatoes and other quick growing crops. I'm especially pleased that very young children are involved, as the sooner we teach children where their food comes from, the better their understanding and willingness to try new foods. Some of the children will be visiting walled vegetable gardens to learn about crop rotation and even the youngest pupils will be involved in planting and watering."
The simple aim of the project is to help young children to connect with food and to get real enjoyment out of turning their playgrounds into green areas, where food and growth go hand in hand. Local chefs will also visit schools to show the children how to prepare and cook plants they have grown.
Nichola Motley finished; "Growing our own food and having a relationship with those who grow it, is an essential aspect of a sustainable lifestyle. For children to engage with the food that lands up on their plates is healthy for body, mind and spirit."
The Edible Playground project is a new venture for Screen Bites; Dorset's Food Film Festival and is also supported by Chalk & Cheese.
More details are available from Mike Burks on 01935 814633 or project co-ordinator Nichola Motley on 01308 422305.