Seeds sown for new IoS gardening campaign

The Independent on Sunday is relaunching its drive to get more children growing food at school

Isabelle Lewis isn't four yet. But already she knows the thrill of nibbling on something fresh from the garden that she has grown herself. So far this summer, only the radishes are up but the carrots and parsnips will follow soon.

She says "getting dirty fingers doing the seeding" is her favourite thing about gardening, although watering the small shoots she planted herself in the wooden barrels that sit in her corner of the Lewises' small army garden is pretty good fun too.

The Independent on Sunday wants hundreds of thousands more children to share Isabelle's taste of the good life, which is why today we are relaunching our hugely successful campaign to Let Children Grow. Working with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), we want to help all primary schools in the UK to provide some form of practical gardening for pupils.

More than 11,000 schools have signed up to the campaign, which we launched last year, but, like the prestigious gardening charity behind the Chelsea Flower Show, we don't want to stop there. The RHS, which has its own Campaign for School Gardening, aims to get 80 per cent of British primary schools, about 17,000, growing fruit and vegetables by 2012.

Many of Britain's greenest fingered luminaries are backing our crusade, including David Bellamy and the BBC's Chris Beardshaw. Bellamy, who got into growing vegetables while "digging for victory" during the Blitz, said: "Every school that joins is teaching its pupils natural history, and that is very exciting stuff. We need kids to get involved so that there'll be another Bill Oddie or David Attenborough on the way." Beardshaw added: "Children are not just interested in growing – they have a much broader enthusiasm to look at plants on a microscopic level and to relate plants to specific organisms and are interested in the subject of biodiversity."

Experts believe introducing children to gardening helps them to understand where food comes from. RHS research suggests it can help academic achievement, behaviour and confidence among pupils while boosting their health.

Gordon Seabright, the RHS's acting director general, said: "Gardening in schools not only teaches children about growing plants and caring for the environment, but it also helps them to learn the skills of communication, team work and patience. Working with The Independent on Sunday means we can encourage even more schools, teachers and parents to help their children to grow into happier and healthier individuals."

Isabelle, who turns four next month, is lucky because her Montessori nursery regularly gets its pupils sowing seeds. "She just came home with a baby Jurassic Park complete with mini plastic dinosaur planted with cress and rosemary," said her father, Ed Lewis. "It all reinforces where her food comes from. We hope that she'll help her mum cook the carrots when they come up." Isabelle will be in charge of planting next year's crop when her father, a major in the British Army, returns to Afghanistan.

Interest from schools has soared since the RHS campaign began. Charlotte Green, who runs the Gardening with Children website on behalf of the Recycle Works, which sells gardening equipment, said: "We've seen a 100-fold increase in the number of schools we sell to compared with two years ago."

At Kingsway Primary School in Goole, East Yorkshire, which The IoS adopted as our beacon Let Children Grow school, the number of pupils gardening has doubled. Liam Jackson, the head teacher, said: "We've expanded our after-school gardening club. We're involving the garden in the curriculum: the children are writing and drawing about what they see."

Win! An iPod Touch

To celebrate our Let Children Grow campaign, The IoS has teamed up with the Royal Horticultural Society to offer readers the chance to win an iPod Touch, which comes with the charity's new gardening app. The only stipulation is that your child's school backs our crusade.

Click here to visit the RHS website where you can register.

To enter the competition, get your child to send us a poem about why they love gardening. Entries to IoS Gardening Competition, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5HF or, with 'gardening competition' in the subject header, to reach us by 20 June. Usual terms and conditions apply.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959


Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
10 best table lamps
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

English Teacher (Bristol and South Gloucestershire)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: English teachers for day to day cover,...


Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 6 Teacher RequiredThis teaching...

SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's Stortford / Stansted

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week