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Food Scheme Looks Set to Grow and Grow

Published Monday, 08 April 2013

Youngsters at a Ribble Valley primary school hope to reap what they sow thanks to a £2,000 grant from Ribble Valley Borough Council.

Gisburn Primary School has received the cash to set up a community food garden.

The funds will be used for fencing, the establishment of plots and paths, a shed, wormery, composting bin and polytunnels.

Over 20 Ribble Valley primary and secondary schools are to receive between £2,000 and £5,000 from the council for the establishment of food gardens.

Community food growing has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years and there is an extensive waiting list for the borough's 250 allotments.

Just 30 minutes of gardening can burn as many calories as aerobic exercise, while allotments provide a healthier and more nutritious diet.

Gardening has also been shown to improve mental health and develop life skills for youngsters, such as deferred gratification and reward for effort, and provides a sense of achievement, satisfaction and pride.

The Community Food Growing Scheme is being coordinated by the council's partnership officer, David Ingham, who said: "Educating children on the importance of healthy food and environmental sustainability is now considered an important role for local authorities and schools.

"We have identified primary and secondary schools in Ribble Valley that want to join the scheme, and are in a position to support them in finding, funding and building their own food gardens."

Gisburn Primary School teacher Jackie Clements added: "During the war, the school grew all its own food and with the help of the community we hope to restore the garden, and grow a variety of fruit and vegetables for the children to eat."

In the late 1940s, there were 935 allotments in Clitheroe. Popularity was high due to World War II and the Dig for Victory campaign, which encouraged people to grow their own food.

In the 1980s and 1990s, plots were sold off due to lack of demand, but interest in allotments has rocketed recently, fuelled by the rising cost of food and resurgence in British produce.

Gardeners can save up to £950 a year by growing their own produce, as well as reducing their carbon footprint and helping to tackle climate change.

  • Food rationing came into force in January 1940 and onions became so rare that they were given as birthday presents, or raffle prizes
  • At the start of the war there were 3.5million private gardens and 819,000 allotments in England, but by 1943 the number had risen to five million and 1,675,000 respectively
  • Bombed out buildings were turned into gardens in London's East End, with soil sieved through pierced dustbin lids to remove glass and harmful debris
  • Vegetables were grown alongside the runway at Manchester Airport and in the dry moat around the Tower of London
  • During the Dig for Victory campaign, gardening became part of the national curriculum in schools
  • Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were photographed digging and pushing wheelbarrows
  • Studies show that children who garden have a better attitude towards education and are more likely to eat their greens
  • Gardening for just 30 minutes a day can strengthen joints, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and slow osteoporosis

Picture - Pupils from Gisburn Primary School with David Ingham and Jackie Clements.

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