GROW at School

GROW at School is a food education programme that aims to increase food literacy in primary schools. Through garden-based learning and hands-on growing experiences we aim to help students develop a deeper understanding of where healthy, sustainable food comes from. We call this food empathy.

We provide schools with food growing materials and curriculum-linked lesson plans that support school gardens, classroom growing, and learning the why behind GIY (Grow It Yourself). Put together, the programme aims to change knowledge, attitudes and behaviour around food.

Our three-year pilot school programme, which provided 32 primary schools with raised garden beds and seeds for an entire school year worth of food growing, was a great success. Now, we have created an ambitious development fund so that we can GROW with all primary schools in Ireland from 2022 to 2025.

Complete our registration form by June 2022 to express your interest in joining the GROW at School programme.


 

If you’d like to learn more about our school programme and how schools can engage, contact our Education Manager, Terri Cole: [email protected]

GROW at School is funded through philanthropic support. If you would like to learn more about how to support our programme, visit our philanthropy page or contact our Head of Philanthropy, Seánie Comerford: [email protected]

3 Paths to participation

1. School Garden Kit

Our ambition is to see every school in Ireland with a garden that can be used as place for learning, exploration, and reconnecting with nature – and, of course, growing your own food.

Our growing kits for schools have been intentionally designed with the school year in mind; there is no growing or garden maintenance required during the summer months. We recommend dedicating three hours per week from February to June to growing and maintaining your school garden.

Those selected for our School Garden Kit will receive the following:

  • A Garden Kit, including 4 raised garden beds (1mx1m), soil and fertiliser, seed potatoes, onion and garlic sets, and 12 seed varieties that you can sow, grow and harvest from February to October.
  • A handy garden plan and calendar (so you’ll know what and when to plant each month).
  • Access to our Learning Hub, featuring curriculum-linked, editable lesson plans focused on food education & growing fundamentals.
  • Our monthly newsletter with content like gardening tips & tricks, school garden ideas, fun activities, tasty recipes and more!
  • Access to our dedicated Facebook group where you can join a thriving teacher community and share your growing journey.
  • The opportunity to participate in fun social media challenges for cool prizes.
  • Direct support from the GIY team all year long.

2. Classroom Growing

Part of GIY’s mission is to encourage people to grow even a little bit of their own food. We like to start by showing others that it’s possible to sow and grow seeds just about anywhere: indoors, small outdoor spaces, containers – you name it, we’ve probably tried planting in it.  

Our classroom kits are perfect for windowsills or in small outdoor spaces. Sowing in your kits should take about 30-45 minutes for each seed, providing quick, hands-on class activities.  

Schools selected for our Classroom Growing path will receive: 

  • A Classroom Kit, including 32 compost pots, 32 compost discs , and 4 seed varieties for sowing and harvesting from March to June (the perfect step for growing newbies).  
  • A handy garden plan and calendar (so you know when and what to plant each month). 
  • Access to our Learning Hub, featuring curriculum-linked, editable lesson plans focused on food education and growing fundamentals. 
  • Our monthly newsletter with content like gardening tips & tricks, fun activities, tasty recipes and more! 
  • Access to our dedicated Facebook group where you can join a thriving teacher community and share your growing journey.
  • The chance to participate in fun social media challenges for cool prizes. 

3. Community Learning 

Not quite ready to take on a growing activity in your school or classroom? Or perhaps your school already has a flourishing school garden? 

Through our Learning Hub, monthly newsletters, and Facebook group, you can ease into garden-based teaching at your own pace or build upon what’s already happening in your schools’ garden space. By registering, you’ll receive access to:  

  • Curriculum-linked, editable lesson plans focused on food education and growing fundamentals to grow your own food.  
  • How-to guides (like DIY-ing your own garden beds). 
  • Tasty recipes 
  • Handy growing tips & tricks  
  • A thriving community of fellow teachers  
  • Opportunities to participate in fun social challenges for cool prizes.

 

how we define food literacy and empathy

We read somewhere that Food Literacy has close to 40 definitions (yikes!), so it’s safe to say that it can be interpreted in many ways. Often, it’s used as an umbrella term to encompass the broad role food plays in our world – from diet and nutrition to cooking and healthy eating, to food systems and sustainable practices, and much, much more. 

We like to think of Food Literacy as developing the knowledge and skills that will enable us to understand: 1. where our food comes from; 2. the impact of our food on our bodies, minds, and environment; and 3. how to adopt more sustainable food practices.  

Our research shows that when people grow their own food it shifts their knowledge, attitudes and behaviour around food. It empowers them to make healthier and more sustainable choices. We call this Food Empathy.  

 

WHY GROW AT SCHOOL

We envision a world where all food is produced, distributed and consumed in a manner that is healthy for our planet and its people. The most effective way to achieve this vision is by engaging with our young citizens—our future agents of change.  Integrating food literacy and fostering food empathy through the primary curriculum ensures that we reach children at crucial development stages that can influence long-term behaviour change. And long-term change is exactly what we need to build a sustainable future and a better world. 

Plus, a load of other reasons makes our school programme just the bees’ knees for teachers and students, like:  

Using the garden as a teaching tool

The garden is a useful interdisciplinary and project-based learning tool. Teachers can integrate core subjects like maths, science, geography and language, undertake projects and experiments, and even use the garden to build important social and life skills. 

Our curriculum-linked lesson plans (coming soon) will help you teach important growing fundamentals and include activities across multiple subject areas for learning that creates lasting impact.

We’ll also be sharing case studies of our school garden successes and providing ideas for creative ways you can use your garden space and growing materials for learning. 

Building connections to global citizenship and climate change

Our school programme is at the nexus of taking affirmative climate action and is strongly interconnected to 6 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 2 Zero Hunger, Goal 3 Good Health & Wellbeing, Goal 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 12 Responsible Consumption and Production, Goal 13 Climate Action, and Goal 15 Life on Land. 

Some fun fact about food growers that demonstrate food growing as taking action for the Global Goals:  

  • 43% are less likely to waste food
  • 57% are more likely to eat a plant-based diet 
  • 129% are more likely to eat a locally sourced diet 2

Food production is responsible for almost a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, while habitat loss from allocating land for food production is the main driver of biodiversity loss. Globally more than 690 million people remain undernourished, while diet is the leading cause of mortality in the developed world. So, what we eat matters and how it is grown and produced matters even more.   

Our lesson plans dive into this further, and combined with our learning paths, offer a great way to make tangible connections to Global Citizenship and Climate Change topics. 

2: Spark Market Research commissioned by GIY. 3: GIY Grow It Forward campaign impact survey conducted by UCC 

Benefits on mental and physical health and wellbeing

The most common feedback we’ve received from schools and communities over the years is the positive impact growing has on holistic wellbeing. In fact, 59% of people reported improved mental health and 68% reported greater awareness of physical benefits from growing their own food. 

Teachers have expressed that children love being out in the garden because it keeps them physically active, engaged, curious, instils resilience, and has an overall therapeutic effect. 

 

our resources

Watch this space for lesson plans and resources – COMING SOON.