The health-driven non-profit Veg Power added another strong partner to its growing stable of helpers, combining forces with social enterprise Edinburgh Community Food to help deliver its Grow Strong project.
Grow Strong is an initiative whereby 38 schools are taking part in the production of cherry tomatoes that are converted to create pasta sauce. Former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins is leading the effort that includes families, government and businesses.
“There is nothing like seeing the miracle of a tiny seed emerge from the soil, grow, bloom and produce fresh food,” Collins said. “When you have grown once, you will want to grow for a lifetime. Knowing how to grow food is not just amazing fun, it’s also a life skill and one our children should not be without.”
Kids who are part of the program get a propagator, tomato seeds and compost, courtesy of Unwins Seeds. They begin to sow them in schools and then take home the seedlings for the summer. By September, they can be converted into sauce. Children receive charts that not only track their progress but also give them guidance for growing. Collins says he also will be taking part in the project – which also includes partners Edible Edinburgh, The City of Edinburgh Council, Westland Horticulture and The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh – while offering vlogs with advice to students.
Veg Power, which has taken off under its partnership with ITV on the “Eat Them to Defeat Them Campaign”, says they will be helping host several events during the summer at Edinburgh’s Community Gardens to assist the young growers. The organisation is hoping that other families who aren’t part of the scheme will join in, too.
“Veg Power is committed to increasing the UK’s veg consumption and the Grow Strong project in which children will grow tomatoes from seed is a fun initiative that not only teaches them about food systems and healthy eating but brings together an alliance of local government, business, community and schools,” Dan Parker, Chief Executive at Veg Power, said.
The Eat Them to Defeat campaign has helped lift sales of children’s portions of vegetables by nearly 1 billion servings, amounting to £92m, since just prior to the start of the pandemic.