New school tomato-growing project aims to encourage veg acceptance among children and help them learn where food comes from
Veg Power, the not-for-profit alliance to increase vegetable consumption across the UK, has launched ‘Growing to Love’ – a tomato growing project to support children’s learning about where food comes from and encourage vegetable acceptance.
#GrowingtoLove – which went live last week (17 April) – puts the children centre stage as they take responsibility for nurturing their tomato plants, trying their home-grown tomatoes and having fun along the way.
The project involves 228 classes of children (reception through to Year 6) from 145 primary schools across the UK. The children will sow their tomato seeds at school and look after their seedlings during the summer holidays, ready for picking in September.
Each school has received a ‘Growing to Love’ pack including a guide for teachers, wall charts with expert advice and plastic-free stickers for children to track their progress and all the necessary growing materials - windowsill propagation kits, seeds, organic vegetable feed, compost and plant labels. A Growing to Love website is also available for teachers, parents and children at https://simplyveg.org.uk/growing-to-love/
The materials have been developed in collaboration with a range of experts including BBC’s former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins, who commented, “There is nothing like seeing the miracle of a tiny seed emerging from the soil, growing, blooming and producing fresh food. When you have grown once, you will want to grow for a lifetime. Knowing how to grow food is not just amazing fun, it’s also a life skill and one our children should not be without.”
Growing to Love follows a smaller pilot project conducted in 2022 involving 38 schools in the Edinburgh area. As feedback on the pilot was very positive, a larger national programme was implemented this year.
Commenting on this initiative, Dan Parker, chief executive, Veg Power, said, “We know that vegetables play a crucial role in keeping us healthy and 80% of children aren’t eating enough of them. We believe that by working together with schools and teaching children to have a positive relationship with healthy food, it will support their own dietary health and provide an understanding of how their food is produced. Research also shows the children are more likely to try the food if they have played a role in growing it. Importantly this project has been designed for children to have maximum fun - and our assets have been created to keep them engaged on their growing journeys - including our tomato vine wall chart with ever ripening stickers and scannable QR codes and a fun, educational website full of activities and support.”
Growing to Love has been supported by Veg Power programme partners: Cambridgeshire County Council, Edinburgh Community Food, EVG, Fix our Foods, Hazera Seeds, Lambeth Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Rijk Zwaan, Westlands and Unwins Seeds together with Chris Collins who provided expert advice and content.