Sharing Practice

Food growing projects create educational, recreational and therapeutic opportunities for schoolchildren. A school growing club:

  • Contributes to children’s knowledge of healthier eating.
  • Offers children the chance to experience food growing and understand where food comes from.
  • Provides an opportunity to involve parents and strengthen home-school links.
  • Boosts the confidence of the children who take part.
  • The health benefits of school gardens include promoting physical activity through regular exercise and promoting mental health through creative achievement. More can be read on the Food Growing in Schools Taskforce report, March 2012.

Whether you decide to opt for a growing project in school or use a school garden to participate in an environmental initiative such as Eco-Schools, growing and using food on-site can assist with teaching and learning across the curriculum.

Share your ‘Growing’ stories with us to see how we can grow together.

Ballycraigy Primary School

Jocelyn Brown from Ballycraigy Primary School in Antrim started their growing journey with some ‘strawberries in a wellie boot’ and recycled old tyres. From there, over the years, Jocelyn has developed this into an area for growing fruits and vegetables to enhance her pupils’ outdoor learning. The school have continued this journey to become Award Winners at the Garden Show Ireland and now have their own school Green Fingers Club, a Community Garden Club and ‘Green Gym Weekend’s where pupils, family and friends in the community all get involved.

Do you have outdoor space but no money to develop it?
Learn from Jocelyn some ways to raise funds and resources to improve your outdoor spaces.

Not sure where to start?
Listen to how Jocelyn started by planting in old wellies and how her journey took her to win the Edible Container competition for schools at the Garden Show Ireland in May 2016.

Also, learn how Ballycraigy Primary School have realised the many benefits of outdoor learning, including:

  • Boosting a sense of responsibility and connection with the natural world
  • Improving children’s access to fresh air and exercise in the outdoors
  • Making a difference to children’s mental wellbeing by taking the learning outdoors
  • Developing children’s thinking skills and personal capabilities and providing a more meaningful and relevant curriculum experience for learners

Watch and listen to Jocelyn’s story.

Attached is a list of resources and funding support, which has helped Jocelyn over the years and may be useful.

PDF - 285 KB

Hastings Hotel Schools Project

Five Northern Ireland schools (with pupils ranging from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 4) embarked on a journey with the Hastings Hotels Group and Jilly Dougan in 2016 to create an edible garden at each of their six hotels (including one on the roof of the Europa Hotel). As part of their commitment to sustainability, the development programme of herb and edible flower gardens gave the culinary teams at the hotels an assured abundance of seasonal produce on a daily basis. They believed that exposure to growing even a small amount of food in a school environment can help introduce children to real food.

This guide gives us an overview of what the schools followed to establish food growing at their own grounds. Three of the schools (from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 3) who worked with the Hastings Hotels and their culinary teams have shared their experiences of Food growing projects.

Holy Cross Girls’ School and the Europa Hotel, Belfast
PDF - 1.7 MB

Shimna Integrated College and the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle
PDF - 2.9 MB

St Kilian’s College and the Ballygally Hotel, Co. Antrim
PDF - 1.7 MB

Ask the Expert

Ask the Expert Webinar with Jilly Dougan - Thursday 21 September 2017

Jilly Dougan joined CCEA, DE Food in Schools and C2K to share her tips and advice at the ‘Ask the Expert’ webinar on 21 September 2017. 58 schools from KS 1&2 joined her on the day to ask a variety of questions about growing and gardening. We didn’t get time to answer all of the great questions we received during the webinar, so we have collated Jilly’s answers to the following frequently asked questions.

We hope you enjoy the recording and get some useful tips and answers to any questions you may have to help your Growing journey!

PDF - 422 KB