Campaign aims to encourage children to ‘sow and grow’

Jan O’Sullivan launches campaign to teach 20,000 children to grow their own food

The Innocent and Grow It Yourself (GIY) Sow and Grow campaign will offer primary school pupils a free learning experience which aims to show them how easy it is to grow vegetables and fruit. Above, 1st prize for growing garden Cloghans Hill NS, Tuam, Co Galway.

The Innocent and Grow It Yourself (GIY) Sow and Grow campaign will offer primary school pupils a free learning experience which aims to show them how easy it is to grow vegetables and fruit. Above, 1st prize for growing garden Cloghans Hill NS, Tuam, Co Galway.

 

A new campaign aimed at getting more than 20,000 children growing their own food has been launched in schools.

The Innocent and Grow It Yourself (GIY) Sow and Grow campaign will offer primary school pupils a free learning experience which aims to show them how easy it is to grow vegetables and fruit.

The campaign was launched on Wednesday by Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan and chef, author and Irish Times columnist Lilly Higgins at St Agnes’s National School in Dublin.

They tried to show students how the courgette, pumpkin and cress seeds found in special growing packs can be made into tasty meals.

“Having grown up in the countryside,” Lilly Higgins said, “I’ve always had a huge interest in where food comes from. We always grew some of our own fruit and vegetables and now that I’m a mother I’m keen to give my children the same foundations in food.”

The campaign is about educating children as early as possible about food, she said.

Teachers and youth-group leaders alike can now apply for one of 650 free sow & grow packs on innocentdrinks.ie/sowandgrow for the classroom. Each pack includes 30 growing pots, seeds, soil, lesson plans and growing guides.

The registered schools can then write about their progress or upload photos and every school that does will receive a sow and grow certificate as well the chance to win a class trip to Bloom Festival 2015 and Dublin Zoo, €500 of gardening equipment and one year of growing support from GIY.

“This is a fantastic educational initiative,” Jan O’Sullivan said. “It provides young students with the opportunity to grow their own and to see at first hand the very real link between the land and what is on their plates.”

She pointed out that many children “are not eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables” so educating the young population is a positive step. “This initiative captures the innate curiosity of children and gives them the tools to grow their own healthy food, a practice that can last a lifetime.”

Founder of GIY Michael Kelly said if children grow their own fruit and vegetables they are more likely to consume health food over time. “National recommendations are that children should consume 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. The most recent national survey (IUNA 2005) shows that only 25pc of our children are meeting that recommendation.”

Marketing Manager of innocent Drinks, Ali Gibbons, said the campaign is “a fun way of teaching /[CHILDREN/] about their fruit and vegetables”.