Liverpool leads the way with revolutionary outdoor food education 

LIVERPOOL primary schools are at the forefront of an innovative approach to healthy eating, as three Edible Playgrounds launch across the city today, to encourage outdoor learning, growing and engaging food education. The three primary schools – St Teresa of Lisieux  Catholic Primary and Monksdown Primary in Norris Green, and Holy Name Catholic Primary in Fazakerley – will each be serving up seasonal home-grown feasts to their local school communities this afternoon ( 20 June) as part of a nationwide initiative by charity, Trees for Cities, to get children outside growing and learning about healthy food. The Edible Playgrounds – which were officially opened by Liverpool’s Assistant Mayor, Cllr Nick Small – mark an experiential and innovative approach to food education; each a  bespoke design  for the school and their pupils to create outdoor learning hubs in the heart of the school grounds. Councillor Small embarked on a tasty road trip across the city; cutting celebratory ribbons of the new Edible Playgrounds and enjoying the home-grown delights pupils have been growing; including herbs, salads and seasonal vegetables. Councillor Small said of his visits to the three schools: “This is a fantastic scheme which has so many benefits for school pupils, including encouraging outdoor learning and growing and eating your own food. The schools are doing an amazing job coming up with creative ways to engage children in learning and fire their imaginations.” Today’s launch is of particular significance to St Teresa of Lisieux Catholic Primary School, one of the largest primary schools in Norris Green, and a flagship school for the Edible Playground programme; made possible thanks to nearly £250,000 Dream Funding available from the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Thanks to the inspirational outdoor spaces, and ongoing support and training from the Edible Playground team, the school can now enjoy seasonally grown fruit and vegetables all year round. Alongside using their outdoor classroom area of the garden to create stimulating lessons and enrich teaching of the core curriculum, pupils will grow and harvest apples from their blossoming orchard trees, strawberries and raspberries from abundant soft fruit beds; as well as herbs, salads and root vegetables from a network of raised beds and trellis archways. In addition to incorporating outdoor learning throughout the wider school curriculum, the school has also created an interactive Cookery Classroom where their school cook delivers outdoor cooking lessons to students 2-3 times a week. Andrew Tremarco, Head of St Teresa de Lisieux Primary School said: “We encourage our pupils to get outside, stick their hands in some soil and learn about the benefits of healthy eating.  Our Edible Playground is all about trying to create a healthier, happier future for the children taking part. We want everyone to have those all-important memories of growing their own food, knowing where it comes from and experiencing the tasting of a wider variety of fruit and vegetables.” This approach to integrated food education in the city comes at a poignant time, following British Nutrition Foundation’s report last week which revealed that nearly 1 in 5 children believe Fish fingers come from chicken, and almost a third think cheese is from a plant. Liverpool’s new Edible Playgrounds are part of a wider programme – a partnership between Trees for Cities, School Food Matters and Chefs Adopt a School – to create 10 further flagship Edible Playgrounds in London, Manchester, Leeds and Reading.  As part of the project, the pupils will also enjoy hands-on cooking lessons from Chefs Adopt a School and access to food education programmes outside the school gate via charity School Food Matter’s Membership for Schools. Tesco’s Bags of Help funding went towards the build of the Edible Playground as well as clearing and enhancing the school’s nature trail area.  Ernest Cook supported teacher training and all school engagement activities. Trees for Cities are encouraging more schools to create an Edible Playground on their grounds, as a way to address growing concerns for food poverty, childhood obesity and a disconnect with food origins. For more information contact the Edible Playgrounds team on 020 7840 5956 or by emailing info@edibleplaygrounds.org