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11th May 2022

‘Grow Strong’ – Getting children growing their own food

As part of our mission to get the UK eating more veg, we’ve joined forces with Edinburgh Community Food, the social enterprise and charity which tackles health inequalities, on an exciting programme. ‘Grow Strong’ is a pilot programme to help us create a powerful growing project which closely links growing to eating. 38 primary schools across Edinburgh will be taking part and will grow cherry tomatoes from seed creating a delicious pasta sauce with their harvest. Grow Strong is supported by local families, government, businesses (Unwins Seeds, Westland Horticulture, The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh), Edible Edinburgh and former Blue Peter gardener, Chris Collins.

Each participating child has received a Grow Pack containing a propagator, tomato seeds and compost kindly donated by Unwins Seeds. The seeds will be sown in school in May and the seedlings will be taken home over the summer holidays ready for the pasta sauce to be created from their cherry tomato harvest in September. During the holidays children will be able to visit community gardens in Edinburgh to find out more about growing vegetables and for expert help with their plant. The packs also contain a Grow Strong wall chart full of information and advice to help the young growers. Chris Collins will also be joining Edinburgh’s children, growing his own tomato plant and providing tips and vlogs to help them. To check out the materials, visit the project website here.

The key to success comes from extending the project from schools to home and the wider community. It also puts the children centre-stage as they perform the pivotal role of nurturing the tomato plants along their growing journey. The wall chart was specifically designed to act as the child’s ‘mission control’, bringing together every part of the journey with stickers which help track the ‘seed to seedling to harvest’ and integrated digital components to add depth and discovery to it. As with all of our projects, we believe we are stronger when working in partnership with other organisations. This project provides a model to bring together a diverse alliance who are focused on a shared goal.

Commenting on Grow Strong, Chris Collins said, “There is nothing like seeing the miracle of a tiny seed emerge from the soil, grow, bloom and produce 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.”