The driver of increased produce consumption among school-age children, Veg Power, has launched a campaign called “Growing to Love” that wil aim to get more kids on board with eating fresh vegetables.
Using tomatoes as linchpin to encourage more healthy eating habits, children from across the UK will learn how to grow their own tomato plants, seeing through the process of going from soil to seed to plant to full-grown produce item.
Some 170 primary schools, including more than 225 classrooms, will be taking part in the initiative led by Veg Power, which has become famous for its Eat Them to Defeat Them campaign. That award-winning effort has led to an incredible 1 billion additional children’s portions of vegetables being sold (£92m) over the past three-plus years.
“We know that vegetables play a crucial role in keeping us healthy and 80% of children aren’t eating enough of them,” Dan Parker, Chief Executive of Veg Power, said. “We believe that by working together with schools and teaching children to have a positive relationship with healthy food, it will support their own dietary health and provide an understanding of how their food is produced. Research also shows the children are more likely to try the food if they have played a role in growing it.”
Using the hashtag #growingtolove, Veg Power is helping provide teachers with growing packs, seeds, organic vegetable feed, compost, plant labels, stickers and wall charts in the all-encompassing campaign. There is even a website that teachers, parents and their children can follow at https://simplyveg.org.uk/growing-to-love/
Students who begin growing now should see tomatoes by September. One of the big backers of the scheme is Chris Collins, the BBC’s former Blue Peter gardener. “There is nothing like seeing the miracle of a tiny seed emerging from the soil, growing, blooming and producing fresh food,” Collins said. “When you have grown once, you will want to grow for a lifetime.”
Several other partners are on board with the effort, including the Cambridgeshire County Council, Edinburgh Community Food, EVG, Fix our Foods, Hazera Seeds, Lambeth Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Rijk Zwaan, Westlands and Unwins Seeds. Growing to Love evolved from a smaller project that saw 38 schools take part is a similar scheme last year in the Edinburgh area.