Milton C of E Primary School in Cambridgeshire have created a unique way to feed the homeless – a soup created entirely with produce grown, harvested and lovingly prepared by the pupils.
The Foodshare Grow-Cook-Share project is the latest in a number of school initiatives created by the Cambridge-based charity Foodshare whose aim is to help create a nation of “Food Philanthropists”. The local project, dubbed the “Milton Minestrone”, is creating much excitement around the school allotment where children from all classes have been busy since February tending the ingredients for the soup in their dedicated Foodshare beds. On 23rd June, Year 6 ‘Head Gardeners’ will harvest, cook and deliver the soup to Jimmy’s Night Shelter, feeding around twenty-five people – equivalent to the same number in their class.
Fiona O’Shea, Allotment Co-ordinator at Milton Primary School said:
“Foodshare is great as it gives the children a real sense of purpose. They experience the whole process of food production; from planting seeds and tending crops to harvesting, weighing and cooking their produce. This enables the pupils to, quite literally, enjoy the fruits of their labour, especially as they are sharing with others.”
Jane Heeney of Jimmy’s Night Shelter, said:
“We are reliant on the generosity of others to provide food for our guests. Food prices have increased hugely in the past year, so to have the community support us in this way is brilliant. It’s a wonderful charitable act by the pupils – not just to help us ensure that our guests are well fed, but also to maintain a healthy diet.”
Milton Primary School signed up as a Foodshare School in 2010, growing and donating over £500 of produce to the Milton Children’s Hospice from just £5 worth of seeds. They received a letter of congratulations from Prince Charles for their efforts. This year they have expanded their Foodshare area to include this new project. Head teacher Sue Dorrington said:
“Involvement in Foodshare complements many different areas of the curriculum; learning is ‘hands on’ and put into a meaningful context for the children. There are clear benefits not only for learning skills about growing our food, but also encouraging engagement with the community.”
Tine Roche, professional chef and founder of the Cambridge Cookery School has donated her expertise and space for the day in support of this worthwhile project. She said:
“It is so important to instil in children a love of home-cooked food based on ordinary, seasonal and local produce. It is vital to show the young generation that cooking from scratch, using seasonal and local ingredients, automatically helps with issues such as cutting down on food waste, reducing food miles and enjoying a healthy life-style – even counteracting obesity and diabetes. We need the next generation of cooks to re-connect with real food. At the Cookery School we find that even the fussiest of young eaters are willing to eat anything that they themselves have helped to cook. By also growing their own food, the respect and enthusiasm for what is on the plate increases further. Adding a philanthropic aspect makes this project even more satisfying to be involved in.”
Mark Desvaux, co-founder and Chairman of Foodshare, and member of the new Government-supported Task Force examining the benefits of Food Growing in Schools, said:
“It is amazing and very heart-warming to see how Milton Primary are embracing Foodshare. As well as growing on their allotment, every child takes home a Foodshare plant to grow with their families as part of our ‘Harvest Heroes’ project. The Grow-Cook-Share project brings a whole new level to our philosophy of ‘Growing to Give’, ensuring children can experience the whole cycle of food from seed to plate. It’s wonderfully satisfying for pupils to know that the food they are growing will nourish those in need, and helps nurture an important life skill of caring within the community. It’s a fantastic example of enterprise, sustainability and philanthropy and we hope it will inspire every school in the country to become a Foodshare School and join in the fun!”
Foodshare started less than two years ago and has become a nationwide phenomenon. Co-founders Mark Desvaux and Dan Spencer have seen the seedling of an idea grow exponentially, with over 7,000 children setting up Foodshare Beds in their schools to grow fresh produce for over 250 local charities. Schools, charities, allotments and kitchen gardeners can join Foodshare at www.foodshare.org.uk.
For more information, interview requests and images, please contact Foodshare here.