Little Growers News – 2011

Merry Christmas from Little Growers

RudolphLittle Growers would like to wish you a very merry Christmas and a wonderful start to the New Year. We have had a great year here at Little Growers, with our first market stall a huge success, our projects in the Maldives going from strength to strength and our Online Community being recognised as a truly innovative concept that has since been adapted by other organisations.

Grow Your Own both in and outside of schools continues to increase nationwide, with more and more people getting outdoors and cultivating their own produce. In all areas growing your own makes perfect sense, environmentally it is hugely beneficial from reducing air miles by people growing locally and not buying from supermarkets, to nurturing the land and promoting self sustainability. Socially it is proven that gardening is great for improving mental health and combating the blues, and in schools it promotes team work and confidence. Even financially it is a bonus, with everyone feeling the pinch, growing your own fruit and veg cuts shopping costs whilst eating the freshest, seasonal veg around. We couldn’t be happier at Little Growers to see Grow Your Own blossoming around the UK, we are passionate about educating the future generations in the importance of horticulture, healthy eating and sustainability in and out of school, so a huge well done to everyone who is championing the same cause!

Little Growers Banner

As you will have seen from our newsletters throughout the year, 2011 has been full of great projects for Little Growers. Our first local market was a triumph with the four schools involved raising over £300 in a morning and selling out of their produce completely! The Maldivian school projects continue to thrive, with local hotels exploring the possibility of working in partnership with the schools for them to supply their produce to the hotel restaurants. The pumpkin competition at Connaught Juniors was also a real highlight for everyone involved, with the children entering their designs for a pumpkin and the winners carving their pumpkins and taking them home for a spooky Halloween treat!

Urban TimesLittle Growers was featured in Urban Times last week in their new initiative called Startup Lab. The Startup Lab is a 15-part weekly series dedicated to spotlighting startup companies that highlight the growing interface between strong entrepreneurship and social and environmental sustainability. We were really pleased and proud to be asked to be part of the Startup initiative and equally pleased with the brilliant results! Please do take a look at the Little Growers feature by clicking here

We are looking forward to 2012 and working with new schools as well as developing our current projects, we will be holding more market stalls and working with the local community to truly embed the schools projects within the community. We wish you a Happy Christmas and brilliant New Year, we are hopeful 2012 will be our greenest year yet!

The Little Growers Co-operative Market Stall

Market Stall

As we informed you in the last newsletter Little Growers has recently extended its local projects to not only facilitate growing within schools but now are also running and planning market stalls within the schools. Little Growers held its first Market stall on September 17th in collaboration with the Co-operative SupermarketBagshot and we are extremely pleased with the turnout, everyone involved had a fantastic day! The four Little Growers projects sold their produce to the community, from beetroots, gourds and turnips to herbs, sungold tomatoes and courgettes. It was a huge success and a great way to round off the summer, celebrating how well the schools have done in the first year of the Little Growers local pilot and to raise funds for the schools! Over £315 was raised by the stall and given to the schools to help sustain their gardening projects.

As you can see from the photographs the four local schools near to the Little Growers office did extremely well throughout the summer months and at their stall. The best sellers from the stall were the huge crates of rocket that had been freshly harvested that morning, which the children weighed, bagged up and priced, as well as the cherry tomatoes, beetroots and carrots. The Little Growers staff were in awe of how easily and enthusiastically the children took control of the running of the stall, organising the produce, weighing and selling to passers by, we definitely think we have some mini Alan Sugars amongst our Little Growers!

Little Growers are now planning to hold more stalls on regular basis in partnership with their local Co-operative supermarket. If Little Growers can set a great precedent with this stall they hope the Co-Op will see what a brilliant idea it is and support the projects. The long term goal of Little Growers is to have the schools' produce branded and sold within the Co-operative alongside the organic, fair-trade and other ranges. This will mean that parents and residents can choose to buy locally grown produce and sustain the school projects directly.

By extending the Little Growers projects from not only growing their own produce but selling it to the local community, the charity is promoting young enterprise and social entrepreneurial skills within the schools. Little Growers are keen to develop as many skills as possible for the students involved in their schemes, not only horticultural and healthy eating knowledge but also teamwork, numeracy and business aptitude. To find out more please visit or email

A huge thank you to The Garlic Farm

Market Stall

Little Growers would like to say a huge thank you to Colin, Daniel, Linda and the whole team at the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight. Now is the best time of year to get planting your garlic, the sooner they are planted the more time they will have to establish themselves before the frosts set in. Last month the Garlic Farm kindly donated numerous cloves and bulbs of the magnificent Elephant Garlic and Early Purple. There was great excitement and intrigue when the Garlic Farm parcels arrived at the Little Growers office, I don’t think we’ve ever seen so much garlic or such amazing varieties! The Garlic Farm has provided us with great advice and insight on how the schools should produce top notch garlic so thank you to this really friendly, knowledgeable and generous company! I don’t think we’ve been this excited to plant up since Spring, as the photos show it was a glorious day for all involved.

The Garlic Farm’s Top Tips

Garlic is very easy for the amateur gardener to grow yet at the same time provides much pleasure for the experienced green fingers.

Market Stall

1) When to plant

As a general rule, garlic needs to be in the ground before the last frost. Whether you are planting an autumn or spring variety, it is better to plant earlier rather than later to ensure the plant experiences the cold weather necessary for the plant to vernalise. Some spring planting varieties can be planted up to April, but most varieties fair best if planted before December.

2) Where to plant

Market Stall

Garlic loves the sun so choose the sunniest position for good results. Garlic will grow well in most fertile soils. Ideally soil should be well draining but moisture retaining and not too acidic. Soil should be well aerated by frequent hoeing and should always be well watered from spring to about two weeks before harvest.

3) How to plant

Turn over the soil to at least a spade's depth and create a fine layer of topsoil. Break the bulb into cloves, discarding any unhealthy looking specimens. The cloves should be planted root down, pointed tip up so they can be covered with at least 3-4cm of loose soil. You can either make individual holes for the cloves or draw out a furrow. Spacing should be 15cm apart for large cloves or 10cm apart for smaller cloves. Draw the soil over the cloves to cover them completely but make sure the soil is not too compacted. Cloves can also be planted in containers or pots. Allow 4 cloves per 15cm pot.

The Real Seed Catalogue

Market Stall

The Real Seed Catalogue kindly sent a variety of seeds to the Little Growers office last month to get our local schools winter vegetables gardens underway with a hardy range of produce. The Real Seed Catalogue have been producing seed for thirteen years now, and pride themselves on their reputation for excellent seed quality. They are a bit different from other places you might get seed from, they grow all their veg for their own family use, so if it's in their catalogue, they know well how it grows, and how it tastes. They don’t like things that are fiddly or difficult to grow, making their seed range perfect for our Little Growers. Over the years they have tried thousands of varieties and collected together what they think are the very best vegetables in existence for the home gardener - both valuable heirlooms and really good modern strains. You'll find no hybrids or genetically modified seed - just varieties that do really well and taste great when grown by hand on a garden scale. We will be sure to let you know how our local schools get along with their winter crops, watch this space. Thank you to everyone at Real Seeds!

Tozer Seeds

Tozer Seeds is the largest independent vegetable breeding company in the UK. They have offices all over the world but Little Growers were extremely keen to get them on board with our local pilot as they are just up the road from our offices. This means we are lucky enough to gain their vast international experience and long standing knowledge whilst working with a local company. One of Little Growers key mottos is for local to sustain local so that our projects can be intrinsic to their local communities, by utilising donations from local businesses and supplying produce to residents.

Market Stall

For over 70 years, Tozer Seeds has built a reputation for breeding quality vegetable varieties; the independent, family owned status of Tozer Seeds allows the company to be responsive to the ever changing requirements of growers. Much emphasis is placed on breeding products with consistent performance, Tozer conduct extensive trials both at their own nurseries and with commercial growers worldwide.

Tozer Seeds kindly donated a huge quantity of seeds to our local schools, we would like to say a huge thank you to David Rogers for sending us winter seed packs with everything from chard to rhubarb and spinach. Tozer have been extremely generous and provided enough seed for our local schools all year, thank you to David and the team for sustaining a local horticultural project in their area.

Little Growers South Africa

Market Stall

The SOS Children’s Village project continues from strength to strength in South Africa, as the photos show this amazing project has truly come from nothing. Little Growers is working in collaboration with the children’s school and centre as well as the sponsors Transnet. The "Grand Opening" was on the 27th July, with local press and television attending. The commercial scale polytunnels were built on derelict land that was levelled and prepared before installation of the growing project. The polytunnels are filled with AutoPot watering systems, they are using both the easy2grow system and the AQUAbox Spyder for raised beds.

They have been propagating a range of summer crops including tomatoes. The project is overseen by the housemothers who look after 8 children each, they have training sessions with horticulturalists to facilitate ownership of the project and to provide them with the necessary skills they need to oversee the project. Training will be provided until next April to be sure that the housemothers and everyone involved has all the support they need to take over and independently run the initiative. We wish them all the best of luck and are extremely proud of all the hard work that has been put into the Children’s village, it is truly amazing what can be achieved with hard work and determination!

Connaught’s Pumpkin Competition

Market Stall

We have been excited in the Little Growers office for some time about Connaught’s Pumpkins, they are the largest specimens we have ever seen and exceeded all our expectations! When the children planted them several months back we never thought the result would be the giants that we harvested at the start of October! As you can see from the photographs Connaught had a bumper crop. In partnership with the school we ran a Halloween Pumpkin competition where all the children designed their own pumpkin faces. One winner from each year group was chosen, they then carved their design into their own mammoth pumpkin with the help of the Little Growers staff. As you can see the competition winners’ designs are absolutely brilliant!

Market Stall

The finished pumpkins were then awarded to the students in assembly and they won their own pumpkin seeds to plant at home. It was a great event for all involved, I think the adults enjoyed it just as much as the children! It was a great way for the children to be involved not only from seed to harvest, but then to also generate excitement around their produce by running the competition.

Little Growers Winter Planting

At Little Growers we have been busy clearing our growing areas, composting and planting up winter varieties. The children have finished harvesting the last of their summer crops and have been clearing their beds and polytunnels, fertilising and replanting crops.

Market Stall

Crawley Ridge’s environmental club get busy planting their bulbs across the school bank ready for Spring, we came across lots of lovely creepy crawlers such as worms that help to keep the soil healthy! It will be lovely to see the flowers popping up in many months to come just as we will nearly have forgotten what we planted where.

Market Stall

We LOVE tomatoes, one of our Little Growers found this brilliant heart shaped tomato when they were harvesting their final crop of tomatoes from the polytunnel last week.

Market Stall

Bagshot had a final bumper crop last month of tomatoes, beans and courgettes, even with the unpredictable weather throughout July and August our schools have still managed to consistently have numerous harvests and plentiful veggies throughout summer and autumn. Well done Little Growers!

Market Stall

To find out more about what to plant over the colder months please take a look here for the top ten winter vegetables and here for how best to protect your growing areas from the cold.

Winter Warmer Recipes

With the clocks having gone back and the nights getting colder, here are some recipes that not only use seasonable produce but that will help warm you up through the winter months.

Pumpkin Soup

A warming winter soup; the kick of ginger and chilli is balanced by tasty coconut milk.

Market Stall

INGREDIENTS: 1 medium pumpkin (preferably organic), 1 large white onion (chopped), 2.5cm/1in piece of root giner (finely chopped), 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped), 1/2 scotch bonnet chilli (seeds removed & chopped), 4-5 sprigs thyme, 400ml/14fl oz coconut milk, sea salt and feshly ground black pepper, breadfruit or sweet potato chunks (optional & to taste).

  • 1. Cut the pumpkin in half, then into wedges. Peel and deseed each wedge and cut the pumpkin flesh into 2.5cm/1in cubes.
  • 2. Put the pumpkin in a large pan with the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli. Strip the leaves from the thyme and add to the pan.
  • 3. Pour in about 400ml/14fl oz of water, bring to the boil and cook until the pumpkin has turned to a pulp.
  • 4. Add the coconut milk and season to taste with salt, then reduce the heat and leave the soup to simmer for another 5–10 minutes.
  • 5. If you like, add chunks of breadfruit or sweet potato towards the end of the cooking. Serve hot in bowls.

Apple & Berry Crumble

Market Stall

INGREDIENTS: 4 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into big chunks, 1 tbsp water, 3 tbsp sugar, 225 g fresh or frozen blackberries (or mixed berries For the crumble), 170 g plain flour, 75 g butter, 75 g demerara sugar.

TIP: Rolled oats can be sprinkled on top to add an extra crunch

  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
  2. 2. Put the apple chunks, water and sugar into a saucepan over a lowish heat and cook until the apples are soft and mushy; this should take about 10 minutes. While cooking, stir it every minute or so to prevent sticking. Taste and add more sugar if it needs it.
  3. 3. Transfer the apple pulp into individual bowls or one big pie dish and allow to cool slightly. Stir the berries into the apples.
  4. 4. To make the crumble, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles very coarse breadcrumbs. However, if you rub it too much the crumble will not be crunchy. Combine with the sugar. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the slightly cooled apple and bake for 15 mins for small crumbles or 30-45 mins for larger crumbles. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Market Stall

Little Growers Market Stall

1426877 coopLittle Growers are extremely pleased to announce that we will be holding a Market stall on September 17th in collaboration with the Co-operative Supermarket Bagshot. We will be selling the four local school’s produce to the community, from beetroots and turnips to herbs and courgettes. This will be a great way to round off the summer, celebrate how well everyone has done in the first year of the Little Growers local pilot and to raise some funds for the schools! All the money raised by the stall will be given to the schools to help sustain their gardening projects. It’s the first time Little Growers has taken the projects a step further from growing to supplying the local community with fresh local produce. We are keen to make this day a success so that the Co-Op will let us have more stalls on a regular basis and help the schools with their projects. If we can set a great precedent with this stall we hope the Co-Op will see what a brilliant idea it is and support the projects. If you are in the area please do come down and support us!

Local Little Growers Schools continue to bloom!

As you can see from the photographs our four local schools near to the Little Growers office continue to do extremely well. Although it’s the summer holidays, Little Growers staff and teachers have regularly visited the plots to ensure everything is coming along well ready for the stall and to harvest the tasty crops! The AutoPot irrigation systems we install in all our schools water and feed the crops all summer long, so that we just have to harvest, tidy up and keep the plants in tip top condition. Crawley Ridge’s Purple Sprouting Brocolli is some of the best we have ever seen, Connaught’s pumpkins are enormous already so we are extremely excited about harvesting them in the coming weeks and Hurst Lodge’s cabbages have exceeded all our expectations not only are they tasty but huge too!

1527395 schools

At the end of the summer term we received some1524409 schoolcard lovely cards and thank yous from the students we have worked with this year. As you can see not only have they gained green fingers this school year but they clearly have a flare for drawing too! It was a brilliant end of term for us to receive these and to round off their school year by harvesting an array of crops for them to take home to enjoy with their families. Little Growers would like to say a huge well done to our four local schools who have achieved great results in this year's pilot scheme, from 54ft polytunnels to many square metres of raised beds irrigated by AQUAbox Spyders they have taken to their new ventures really well and we have learnt a great deal to make the projects, bigger, better and more successful for the new school year in September!

A BIG Thank You to Unwins

Little Growers would like to say a huge thank you to Unwins seeds1524411 unwins for donating all of the seeds we have used in our four local schools this year. Unwins has a seed range especially designed for use by children, the seed range is called Little Growers, so it was the perfect opportunity for a partnership! We have used a brilliant array of seeds including eight ball courgettes, cut and come again lettuces, Mammoth Pumpkins, Emelia Spinach and much more. Unwins has been incredibly generous and sent out numerous packages of seeds as and when we have needed them. Thank You to Nicola and everyone at the Unwins team!1524412 seedslg

A word from Unwins on their Little Growers seed range

1524413 speechTo help consumers pass on their enthusiasm for growing, Unwins created the Little Growers range to help encourage the younger generation to enjoy the delights of growing their own. Specially chosen for children, the flower varieties have been selected to attract butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects to the garden. Also included are some exciting and unusual vegetables to encourage children to want to eat the produce they have grown. With colourful, child-friendly packaging and variety names, the Little Growers range offers a great way to have fun with gardening, and to develop children’s natural enthusiasm for nature and the outdoors. For further information visit our the Garden Health website.

Hydroponics 4 Life

Little Growers recently met with Hydroponics4Life, a horticultural charity1524414 hydroforlife that works with schools both in the UK and internationally. The aim of hydroponics4life is to link individuals, schools and organisations with projects in the developing world. By sharing and developing the techniques and advances in science we can make a difference where it is most needed. Hydroponics4Life are proud of the world’s first mobile aquaponic bioshelter. The Hydroponics4life tour bus will be rolling again this month, visiting local schools youth clubs and allotment groups. Here is a brief overview of what ‘Hydroponics’ is and why it has the potential to be an innovative and educational solution to growing in a variety of scenarios:

1524413 speechConventionally grown plants extract water nutrients and oxygen from soil, but because of the physical characteristics of soil it is likely that one or all of these essential nutrients are of limited availability to the plant roots. When plants are grown in water i.e. hydroponically, the system if set-up correctly provides the plants access to an unlimited supply of water, containing exactly the right amount of nutrients along with a perfectly balanced pH. Enabling a grower to keep their plants growth at a much more vigorous rate throughout the crop and achieve maximum yield.

To find out more about their great work and get involved please visit their website.

Autumn grow guide

It is often thought that with the end of summer, comes the end of growing outdoors and there is little to be done with gardening clubs in schools. Don’t be fooled, there are plenty of crops and hardy varieties you can grow throughout the colder months, enabling the students to see how plants respond to the changing of the seasons and the contrasting needs of different varieties in winter compared to summer planting.

Winter Salad

1527415 saladMany people grow their own salad in the summer, but not many people give winter salads the attention they deserve. The good news is that the growing methods used are very similar and that, with a few small adjustments, you can grow tasty salads in the garden all year round. Choose from hardy varieties of your favourite summer lettuce, or experiment with more unusual winter salad crops such as Texsel greens and salad burnet. For a continuous supply, sow a few seeds every four weeks.


1527417 ticksGood drainage is essential for growing winter salad as the seedlings will simply freeze if left standing in pools of water. Choose a sheltered, sunny position when deciding where to grow your salad as it's important that the seedlings are protected from cold winter winds.

1527417 ticksSow between late August and mid-November. Regular sowings will ensure that you have a good continuous crop.

1527417 ticksSow seeds in short, shallow rows. Cover with soil, label and water.

1527417 ticksIf a sharp dip in temperature is predicted (particularly overnight), consider covering your seeds with a cloche or fleece to protect them.

1527417 ticksWinter salads traditionally have a strong, robust flavour that can sometimes be a little bitter. If you find that your salad leaves are too bitter for your tastes, try blanching the leaves by covering the plants with an upturned flowerpot. Left like this for a few days before harvesting, the leaves will become paler and less bitter.

Hardy Varieties that will stand up to the winter chill and produce fresh green leaves for you in the colder months…1527416 salad2

  • Lettuce 'Arctic King' - This large 'butterhead' lettuce is light green, crunchy and exceptionally hardy. Sow by mid September for best results, or later under glass.
  • Lettuce 'Valdor' - This dark green lettuce has a tight core of leaves and is very hardy. Sow in September and October for picking 10-12 weeks later.
  • Texsel Greens - Also known as Ethiopian greens, this fast-growing salad plant can be sown until the end of October, or later under glass. The leaves taste similar to spinach and can be used in the same way.
  • Salad Burnet - The leaves of this perennial have a cucumber flavour and are good in salads. Harvest frequently for a steady supply of tender leaves.
  • Land cress – An excellent substitute for watercress, this plant can be picked around eight weeks after sowing. It's not entirely frost-resistant though, so cover the plants with a cloche or fleecing if the temperature drops.

1524419 garlic
    Garlic is always a fail safe winter crop, it is easy to grow and if every child brings in a garlic bulb from home you will be guaranteed a bumper crop! Plant the cloves individually to a depth of 2.5in deep on light soils and a lot less deep on heavy soils, but always a minimum of one inch below the surface. The distance should be about one foot apart each way.
It is now three years since we began and Little Growers continues to grow…

Recently in the Little Growers we were taking a trip down memory lane and looking back at what we have achieved since we began in 2008. We have set up 35 schools with full horticultural set ups of polytunnels, raised beds, irrigation systems, waterbutts, seeds… everything they need to have a fully fledged grow your own learning area. We have also provided 50 schools with their own propagation units and seeds so that they can have an indoor growing area to bring on their plants to then transplant into their outdoor areas. We work with children of all ages and abilities facilitating them to learn outdoors, to understand where their food comes from and to have key life skills in healthy eating, team work and sustainability. Our projects are adapted to each individual school’s needs from infants to young adults, whether inner city space limited projects to vast commercial scale grows. We continue to have better and better results in schools, with our team learning and expanding every year to achieve more with the children and ensure they take away as much as possible from their Little Growers project.

1524423 lastparagraph

Little Growers began as a UK focused charity, in 2008 and 2009 we worked with UK schools, however since 2010 we have worked with a range of international schools. We now have school initiatives in Thailand, the Maldives, Japan and South Africa. At Little Growers we are extremely proud of our increasing worldwide presence, each country requires different set ups due to contrasting climates, community needs and native produce varieties. The Maldives project has been hugely successful, with local government and hotel resorts currently discussing sponsorship of the scheme and expansion possibilities. To find out more about our international initiatives please see previous newsletters and our Online Community updates. The results are extremely diverse and its really exciting to see the Little Growers template spreading worldwide to help more and more children from all walks of life.1530455 lg

Little Growers is a not for profit organisation and we would not be able to function without the ongoing support of our sponsors. Since we began our main sponsor AutoPot has provided invaluable financial support, horticultural advice and hands on visits for us. They have donated over £7,500, countless equipment and of course their environmentally friendly irrigation systems. Unwins, Sutton Seeds, Gold Label Compost, Growth Technology and many more suppliers have donated equipment over the years and we would like to say a huge thank you for helping to sustain and increase Little Growers work throughout the UK and increasingly worldwide.

July's Little Growers Newsletter

Dear Little Growers Schools, followers and supporters,SunSummer 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

Harvey NicholsLittle 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 Royal Alexander Schoolto 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

Connaught School Connaught Connaught
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.

Hurst Lodge

Crawley Ridge
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

agshot 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

Local School MarketLittle 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.

Summer Recipes

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.


  • 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 and join our Online Community.

Have a wonderful summer, enjoy the sunshine when you can and happy growing!

Heather Pearl
Project Manager

Little Growers Newsletter - May 2011


Little Growers would like to say a huge thank you to Gold Label Substrates, they kindly donated eight tonnes of compost to us for our up and coming Co-operative Pilot Scheme.  This has enabled us to set up three schools in the local area with numerous raised beds to grow produce to supply the community and local co-operative store.  Crawley Ridge and Connaught school will have 32 square metres of growing space each, with Bagshot School having 34 square metres of raised beds.  The soil has now been delivered to all schools and we will be installing the growing projects throughout the month of May, with each school having a ‘Grow Day’ where parents and volunteers come along and help to set up the raised beds, irrigation systems and plants so that the children are ready for the summer.  Watch this space for more news on the Co-operative and Little Growers pilot scheme which we informed you of in more detail in the last newsletter.

Up and coming Nutritional advice

Little Growers is pleased to announce we are now working in partnership with Fig Tree Nutrition to provide nutritional information about the produce which is used in our school growing projects.  We will be creating a variety of learning resources for both teachers and students to utilise, with information about balanced diets, what crops to grow for specific vitamins and minerals and much more.  Amanda Cleghorn who runs Fig Tree Nutrition is a qualified nutritional therapist, based in Chobham and Weybridge, Surrey who provides tailored nutritional advice for adults and children.  Nutritional therapy aims to promote optimal health and can be effective in addressing a wide range of health issues, including digestive problems, skin complaints, weight loss, hormonal imbalances, behavioural issues, low energy and poor bone health.  We are currently putting together the content for the learning resources and will soon be working with our graphic designer to have them ready for uploading to our learning section of the website.  In the meantime to see what we already have within this section please visit:

For more information on Figtree please visit:

Points mean prizes

The Little Growers Online Interactive Community is going from strength to strength, with more and more schools updating photos and blogs detailing their gardening projects.  We are excited to see increasing numbers of schools joining and sharing their growing experiences with us.  We have recently welcomed new schools from the UK, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.  Please click on the following link to have a look for yourself at all their great work:

Each time a school updates their profile with photos and text they are rewarded with points.  They can then use these points to gain free horticultural equipment from Little Growers.  Two schools have recently gained enough points to gain equipment, Hillbourne and Manor High are both deciding which equipment they would like and then Little Growers will send them out their rewards, so they can develop their growing projects even further.  There are some brilliant growing stories and school gardening projects to be seen on our Online Interactive Community so please do take a look and if you are a school, please do join us and create your own profile to begin telling your own story and earn points and prizes!

Kitchen Garden Magazine

Little Growers were recently visited by Kitchen Garden Magazine to begin writing an article on our Co-operative Pilot scheme.  They will be visiting us throughout the growing season to document Bagshot School’s progress, showing how simple the AutoPot irrigation systems are and the great results Little Growers have been having in our local area of Surrey.

As you can see from the photographs everyone involved had a fun filled afternoon, using both the AQUAbox spyders which Little Growers provides for raised bed irrigation and the pot and tray systems which we use in the school polytunnels.  We will be updating you on the projects throughout this summer and will be uploading the finished article onto the website as soon as it published, so keep an eye out for much more in the coming months.

Little Growers at Facebook!

Little Growers at Facebook

Little Growers is now up and running on Facebook, please do join our group to be updated with news, photos and more from the Little Growers team.

To see what we are up to please follow this link to our Facebook Page

Best Wishes and Happy Growing,

Heather Pearl - Project Manager

Little Growers Newsletter - March 2011
Little Josh!
Dear Little Growers School,

Spring is on its way and here at Little Growers we are spring cleaning the office, getting ready to make new projects bloom and encouraging our schools to get back out into their gardens and start growing. Now is the time to clean out the polytunnels, flush the irrigation systems and get the seeds sown. This time of year with Spring arriving is the start of a busy time at Little Growers and we are keen to make more of a difference this year, with more projects beginning and facilitating productivity across all of our schools.

Have new Little Growers photos here and source Spring image (saplings etc)

Have new Little Growers photos here and source Spring image (saplings etc)

Have new Little Growers photos here and source Spring image (saplings etc)

Local FoodUnfortunately we regrettably announce we didn't receive the Local Food grant from the National Lottery, we have been in the process for 18 months and had progressed steadily through each stage, completing two applications, an external assessment and much legal paperwork refining and posting. We were pleased and confident with our effort and felt we had a strong proposal that fitted the funding brief, however on this occasion we were unsuccessful. The fund was hugely over subscribed and closed significantly earlier than planned due to the huge demand for the scheme and fund. However this has not deterred us but encouraged us to pursue other routes of how best to develop Little Growers and facilitate more schools to be able to grow their own produce. We have new exciting projects developing so please read on to see what we are working on and keep an eye on the website and Facebook page for regular updates…

Up and coming events and shows for Little Growers

Little Growers are pleased to announce that we will be attending the following three Horticultural Education events over the coming months…

Growing Schools ConferenceGrowing Schools Conference

We attended this event last year and had a great day meeting teachers and other organisations who champion the same causes as Little Growers. We will have a stand in the market place this year and would love to see you there. It is being held at Garden Organic near Coventry on the 23rd March and is informative day for teachers interested in developing their growing projects. To find out more please follow this link.

Food Initiative Group Conference

This is the first time Little Growers will be attending this event organised by the Food Initiative Group held in Nottingham in May. We will be running both a stand where you can meet the team and discuss our projects and how we can help schools, as well as a workshop for teachers who wish to learn more about grow your own and irrigation systems in schools. The 'Get your School Growing' event is expecting approximately 50 schools from across the East Midlands, alongside community garden groups and other organisations that are able to offer support and advice to the schools. For more information if you wish to attend please email

Countryside Live

Countryside LiveLittle Growers will be attending the Countryside Live event in London on the 21st and 22nd September. It is run by the Countryside Foundation for Education, with countryside shows for primary school children called Countryside Live – the event is set up like a country fair with marquees and a central arena. We will be attending and running our own stand and hands on activity workshops with children throughout the day within a marquee. Around 1500 children attend per day, together with their teachers and helpers. Little Growers will be running 30 minute bookable sessions for children to attend throughout the days where they can learn about growing, watering and how much fun outdoor learning and grow your own can be. To find out more about the event and to book a place to attend please follow this link.

Little Growers are in the news again!

Little Growers recently had two articles published, we are always keen to champion our causes through press features and articles, to read them on full please explore the Little Growers Media & Endorsements area.

NSALG LogoThe first article saw Little Growers published for a second time in the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Magazine. It is distributed to all NSALG members and we had great feedback and responses from allotment groups wishing to incorporate students and junior members into their allotments last time we featured in this publication. Read the article by following this link.


The second article is for The National Association for Environmental Education and features a learning resource for teachers and an article written by Little Growers to encourage and instruct teachers in the value of horticulture in schools in terms of both the personal and educational benefits for their students. Follow this link to read the article.

An update from Little Growers in the Maldives

NAEE LogoLittle Growers has now arrived in the Maldives, we have donated equipment to 36 schools in the region to facilitate growing in schools where the climate is ideal for growing but also in a part of the world where a lot of produce is imported and not self sustainable. We have supplied AutoPot irrigation systems (easy2grow kits) to each school so that they can see how straight forward the Little Growers set ups are and how is easy it is to establish and maintain a grow project within the school environment. We will keep you regularly updated via the website and Facebook on their progress as news is already spreading fast around the islands and we have received emails of interest from other schools keen to become involved in Little Growers.

A truly innovative piece of equipment is launched in Little Growers schools

This month has seen the launch of AutoPot's new raised bed and in ground irrigation system the 'AQUAbox Spyder' in three of our projects. Wandle Valley School, Ysgol y Gogarth School and the Barton Mills Junior Allotment Group have all received their AQUAbox Spyders to irrigate their raised bed areas and are excited to get underway with this new and unique system that alleviates all worries of watering and feed when used in raised beds.

AQUAbox Spyder in a Raised Bed

The AQUAbox Spyder is extremely simple to set up and once connected to a water butt or tank can be left unattended to water and feed an area of 1.2 square meters. All the teachers need to do is refill the water butt as and when the plants require or connect a ball-cock to each water butt to provide a constant supply of water to the water butt/tank.

We will be keeping you up to date on how well suited these are for use in schools and the great results our schools achieve with them. If you wish to know more about the AQUAbox Spyder or are keen to have them within your school growing project please email

How it Works...

AutoPot Check Mark

The AQUAbox Spyder is positioned directly into the ground, making it ideal for watering conventional beds or the increasingly popular raised beds.

AutoPot Check Mark

A series of capillary wicks fan out from the AQUAbox Spyder distributing water under the soil, across an area of up to 1.2sq/m.

AutoPot Check Mark

With the AQUAvalve at its core, the AQUAbox Spyder draws on the water supply (water butt or tank) as required by the plants, ensuring a fantastically efficient use of water. The plants roots instinctively head towards the water source, attaching themselves to the capillary wicks below the soil level.

AutoPot Check Mark

The plants roots instinctively head towards the water source, attaching themselves to the capillary wicks below the soil level. The 19.5cm diameter AQUAbox Spyder is supplied with 2 metres of 6mm pipe and a reducing connector with integral filter, allowing simple connection to a water butt tap via a section of standard garden hosepipe (not supplied).

To view for yourself how the AQUAbox Spyder works please watch this informative AQUAbox Spyder Animation talking you through a step by step guide of how to install one in a raised bed.

Little Growers continues to boost its Online Presence

Online Interactive Community is growing every week, with more schools joining and increasing updates from schools on their progress. The aim of the Online Community is for schools to chart their growing project's progress, whilst earning points that they can then use to gain free equipment with, it also means that they can learn and communicate with one and other about the successes and pitfalls of growing in their schools.

The Little Growers Online Community

We are extremely keen to pioneer and promote the New Online Community at Little Growers so please do take a look and join up if you are part of a school growing initiative. The more you update your profile with posts and photographs the more equipment you can earn to expand your project further and further.

Visit the School Community by following this link or join/register your school here.Little Growers at Facebook!

Little Growers at Facebook

Little Growers is now up and running on Facebook, please do join our group to be updated with news, photos and more from the Little Growers team.

To see what we are up to please follow this link to our Facebook Page

New ideas and projects are in the Pipeline for Little Growers, so watch this space!

Since finding out we did not receive the National Lottery funding we are keen to champion new projects and explore new avenues for developing and expanding Little Growers. There are lots of exciting ideas being discussed within Little Growers so please do contact us if you have any ideas you wish to contribute or would like to be involved with any of the schemes below. Please send an email to

Co-operative LogoWe are in talks with The Co-operative Supermarket near to the Little Growers Office to start a Pilot Scheme. The pilot will see Little Growers produce sold by the Co-operative to raise a revenue for the schools involved to increase their horticultural projects and to promote freshly grown local produce to the surrounding community. The schools in the Bagshot area that have Little Growers projects already will be provided with extra raised beds and the new AQUAbox Spyders to have sufficient growing capacity to supply the produce to the supermarket where it will be sold under the 'Little Growers' brand. The Co-operative are keen to develop this pilot so keep an eye on Facebook and coming newsletters for updates on this exciting new venture.

Little Growers Developing PartershipsWe are also developing partnerships with Horticultural businesses to promote and expand Little Growers into more schools across the UK. We are currently talking with Unwins Seeds and Premier Polytunnels to explore joint ventures where experienced businesses in the growing industry work along side Little Growers to encourage growing in schools and healthy eating. This venture is in the early stages but we will be sure to keep you updated as it develops. If successful it will allow us to help more children across the UK and not rely solely on public fundraising but instead develop relationships with businesses that are established in the horticultural industry.

Finally we are developing a 'Sponsor a School' scheme, this is only just getting off the ground in terms of development in the Little Growers Office, but is sure to be a big hit. The idea is that local businesses, parents and communities can sponsor their local school to provide them with a complete horticultural start up kit. Little Growers will provide the support, advice and know how to assist the school in getting their growing started, with the sponsorship providing the much needed gardening equipment. Little Growers will be putting together a range of options, depending on the size of sponsorship, for example a 'Raised Bed Package', 'The Polytunnel Package' and more… The 'Sponsor a School' packages will range from around £100 (which a school could raise for themselves through a sponsored silence, bake sales etc) to around £450 with local businesses providing sponsorship. The key to this idea is that not only will the school gain the equipment they need to begin their gardening eco project by working with Little Growers they will gain the expertise, support and guidance of the Little Growers team.

That's all from us Little Growers for now but please do offer feedback on our ideas and if you wish to become involved in a Little Growers project whether as a teacher, school, student or volunteer do contact me via

Happy Growing and here's to Spring arriving and the projects blooming!

Heather Pearl - Project Manager