1,000 primary schools to receive free raised garden beds.
Children all around the country are getting ready to roll up their sleeves and raise some roots in their very own garden. This week, 1,000 primary schools will receive raised garden beds from the Incredible Edibles to start an outdoor classroom. The initiative developed by Agri Aware, the agri-food educational body, allows schools to grow a variety of fruit and vegetables with the aim of increasing their consumption among young people. Now in its third year, the programme has evolved from pots in the classroom to plots on the school grounds, enabling children to grow potatoes, lettuce, carrots, turnips and strawberries. When assembled, the raised beds are 1.5 by 1.7 metres and have a plastic cover to protect the crops. The packs are supplied by Sligo based company Quickcrop.
Commenting at the launch of the initiative committee chairman, Mike Neary said, “The Incredible Edibles programme has proven to be an ideal vehicle to engage children in a fun way about the origin of their fruit and vegetables, what is involved in the production of quality produce and the role it plays in a healthy and balanced diet”.
Supported by Bord Bia and the fruit and vegetable industry, registration to the Incredible Edibles was open to every school. The first 1,000 registered schools currently without a school garden were eligible to receive a flat pack. The remaining registered schools will receive a growing pack which includes, seeds, germination pots, grow bags and educational resources.
Participating schools are asked to keep a log book of various tasks they can undertake as part of the programme. These include taking on a healthy eating action, learning about food origin or even just keeping a photo record of their plants as they grow. At the end of the academic year, schools will be deemed a gold, sliver or bronze school, depending on how many tasks they accomplish.
Speaking on the importance of the initiative, Agri Aware chairman Bernard Donohue commented, “Involving children in the process of growing, consuming and even buying fruit and vegetables are simple ways to get them excited about what they eat. We are encouraging parents to compliment the work done in schools and to actively encourage children to eat what they are growing. Cheap and unhealthy food choices are some of the current challenges we face as consumers but we must be mindful of the growing levels of obesity among Irish children.”