Dear Little Growers Schools, followers and supporters,Summer is always the best time of year for Little Growers, we are busy outside in the sunshine supporting our schools to get the most they can from their growing projects. We have now set up all four of our pilot schools with a range of equipment in the local area around the office for our Co-Operative Supermarket scheme and the Online Community continues to get busier every week.
Get Your School Growing Event
Little Growers recently attended the Get Your School Growing event at Nottingham Council House. It was an educational day organised by Nottinghamshire Food Initiatives Group in partnership with Communities for Health in the East Midlands for teachers in the local area to come and learn how to set up and develop growing projects in their schools. The Little Growers team ran a workshop throughout the morning with three separate groups of teachers where we discussed our initiatives and worked with them so that they gained hands on experience with the AutoPot irrigation systems we supply. With over 50 schools in attendance the day was a great success, we also ran a stall where teachers could discuss and ask us a variety of questions not only about the Little Growers projects but growing advice in general. The day was informative for all those in attendance with talks from local Counsellor for Children’s Services David Mellen and Matthew Biggs, Gardener and BBC Radio 4 Gardener’s Question Time panellist. We have already had enquires from teachers we met on the day keen to work with Little Growers and fundraise for Little Growers equipment within their schools.
Royal Alexandra and Albert School, Harvey Nichols Event
Little Growers was lucky enough to recently be invited to a Harvey Nichols lunch at one of our Little Growers schools; the Royal Alexandra and Albert school in Reigate. The day was a great success with delicious food and drinks supplied by the chefs at the OXO restaurant which is run by Harvey Nichols. The Royal Alexandra and Albert school joined Little Growers earlier in the year and now has a commercial scale polytunnel, filled with AutoPot irrigation equipment and are growing a range of produce that is used throughout the school is the canteen and in grounds work classes. The lunch was all made from locally sourced produce including baby leaf salad and potatoes supplied by the Little Growers initiative at the school. The school are now in talks with the produce suppliers and chefs within Harvey Nichols to supply them with a range of produce grown by the students for their London restaurants. This is an extremely exciting project and one shows that horticulture in schools really can be developed into a vast spectrum of outcomes and successes.
Local Schools Update
Connaught Juniors is one of the four local schools Little Growers are working with in conjunction with the Co-Operative Supermarket Pilot. They have been doing extremely well since we installed over 35 square metres of raised bed and in ground irrigation, with rocket, spinach and coriander ready to harvest this week to sell to parents. Courgettes, pumpkins, peas, beans and carrots are growing well and will be ready for harvest later in the summer period.
The Hurst Lodge Little Growers project began with a shaky start due to drainage problems on their site, being solved by a digger and a lot of hard work to create run off trenches! However once this initial hurdle was overcome the project went from strength to strength, Hurst Lodge now has a commercial 54ft polytunnel with over 200 AutoPot irrigation pots within it. Little Growers had an extremely successful set up day with pupils of all age groups helping us throughout the afternoon, installing the irrigation systems, organising plants into groups of heavy and light feeders, connecting the pipe work and much more. As you can see from the photographs that were taken approximately a month apart the Little Growers project at Hurst Lodge has literally blossomed! The plants including; cabbage, strawberries, beans, courgettes, tomatoes, brussel sprouts and chillies are doing incredibly well with Hurst Lodge having nearly every food group covered! Little Growers are extremely pleased with the progress at Hurst Lodge, proving that growing on a larger scale in schools is extremely successful. It allows the children to grow a huge array of plants and each year group to have their own areas which they have ownership of. Follow all of our schools progress at the Little Growers Online Community where they upload photographs and updates every week.
Crawley Ridge has been with Little Growers for a number of years now but this year we developed their project by adding several metres square of raised beds and additional irrigation systems and waterbutts. They have an eco club that runs every Wednesday after school where over 20 students plant seeds, transfer small plants to their raised beds, harvest salads and much more. At present the crops are harvested on a Monday so that the school canteen can plan their weekly menu using the freshly grown produce in the children’s school dinners. They also use their produce in Little Growers ‘Goody Bags’ where onions, spinach and a range of veg is sent home with the students to enjoy at home. Crawley Ridge’s project really is going from strength to strength with four separate growing areas now well established, the raised bed zone, polytunnel area, propagation corner and the terrace harvest area. We are extremely excited about this project so watch this space in the coming months.
Bagshot Infants school is doing well with year one planting their beans, the tomatoes are now looking well after some much needed feed and the courgettes will hopefully be ready to harvest next week. They are also growing salad crops and herbs which should be great for the Little Growers market stall later in the summer. They are also having a new glasshouse installed so will have even more room to expand their growing and try new varieties of plants such as peppers and chillies in the warmer climate.
The Little Growers Local Summer Market
Little Growers is gearing up for its first ever summer market, where the four local schools around our office will be selling their produce to the community in conjunction with the Co-Operative Supermarket. As you can see in the above piece of the newsletter the schools are doing really well, and there are sure to bumper crops on their way to be sold at the market. In the Little Growers office we have been preparing for the up and coming market, the below poster will be displayed in shops throughout the village so that residents can know when and where we will be to come along and buy the freshest and most local produce around. We have also purchased the lovely fruit crates and wicker baskets for the children to display their fruit, veg and herbs in. Each individual bag of produce will be labelled up with the hand stamped Little Growers labels and handwritten by the student who has harvested the produce with the variety, their name and school and the price. The Little Growers stall initiative is unique due to the fact that the children not only learn how to grow from seed to harvest, but that they also gain business skills and gain confidence and experience in selling the produce they have nurtured all term.
Here are some delicious recipes to inspire you this summer to cook up a storm with your fresh Little Growers produce. Dinners and snacks always taste better when you use your very own grown fruit and veg!
Kids will love this quick supper. Experiment with different toppings that you have grown whether sweetcorn, spinach or peppers.
- 4 wholewheat pitta breads
- 4 tsp sun-dried tomato purée
- 3 ripe plum tomatoes , diced
- 1 shallot , thinly sliced
- 85g chorizo, diced
- 50g mature cheddar , grated
- few basil leaves , if you like
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and put a baking sheet inside to heat up. Spread each pitta with 1 tsp purée. Top with the tomatoes, shallot, chorizo and cheddar and any other vegetables of your choice whether sweetcorn, spinach or cherry tomatoes.
Place on the hot sheet and bake for 10 mins until the pittas are crisp, the cheese has melted and the chorizo has frazzled edges. Scatter with basil, if you like, and serve with a green salad.
HOMEMADE EASY PEASY STRAWBERRY ICECREAM
- 1 x 400g punnet strawberries
- 1 x 250g tub mascarpone
- ½ x 397g can condensed milk
- cones and fresh strawberries or other treats , to serve
Pull the green hulls out of the strawberries. If they are still quite hard, cut them in half or quarters with a table knife. Tip them into a flat-bottomed dish.
Use a potato masher to squash the strawberries as much as you can. Tip into a bowl. Ask your grown-up helper to give you a hand if you need to.
Add the mascarpone and mash this in – don’t worry if it is a bit lumpy. Add the condensed milk and mix everything together. Don’t worry if the mix is streaky.
Spoon the mixture into a metal or plastic box and put it in the freezer. Wait until the next day or at least 6 hours before scooping into bowls or cones. Decorate how you like and enjoy!
That’s all from Little Growers this month we hope you’ve enjoyed our news. Don’t forget we love to hear from schools about how their growing projects are going no matter how small or large, its always great to hear from schools across the UK and worldwide. If you have any queries, require growing tips or would like to become part of Little Growers please email firstname.lastname@example.org and join our Online Community.
Have a wonderful summer, enjoy the sunshine when you can and happy growing!