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As part of the Grown in Dagenham project we’ve been hosting weekly workshops for a number of young people at our Dagenham Farm, inspiring them to grow and eat fresh organic food. We’ve been joined by Year 1 and Year 3 from our local primary school, William Bellamy, as well as a small group from a Dagenham secondary school, Eastbrook and Barking and Dagenham College.
60% of the children at William Bellamy school don’t have a garden
With the help of our green fingered friends from William Bellamy, we transformed an empty plot into a lush growth of tasty vegetables, herbs and flowers. Both classes have tried their hand at a wide range of gardening tasks, including seed sowing, planting out, potting on and some epic weed clearing. We have covered a range of topics, from seeds, plant life cycles, herbs and cooking. These sessions have been an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on experience with nature especially for those who do not have access to green spaces – 60% of the children at William Bellamy school don’t have a garden.
“Produce does not come from Asda already in a bag”
One of the highlights for the children was seeing where their food comes from and experiencing for themselves the challenges of growing it. As the class teacher put it, these workshops have given the children “a sense of reality” and have shown them that “produce does not come from Asda already in a bag”. The joy for many has been tasting the delights of what they have grown, trying foods they have never tried before. The aim of cooking with the groups has been to teach the children the connection between the plants and what they can eat. The most popular was a tie between nasturtium pesto and the garden pizzas. When picking the nasturtium leaves, the children seemed shocked that these peppery leaves could be turned into something so tasty; by the end of the session I was fighting to get the bowls away from the group as they were too busy licking them clean!