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The next Big Idea

The government and media are calling for the next BIG IDEA

Is this a new technology? A way of life? Science? Social network?

Do we need an idea to improve health and happiness, reduce waste, increase wealth, build communities or save the environment? Global or just for the UK?

For a big idea to work should it appeal to the greatest number people? And enlighten them to change for the better?

If so, what do we need to change? Have we all become obsessed with money, are selfish and self centred? Or are there simply too many of us competing for jobs, and resources?

At BigBarn we would like to propose this BIG IDEA;

To re-write the School Curriculum to make it more ‘practice’ and food based. Then Build Communities around food and schools. Communities that grow, add value, trade and celebrate food. At school, in allotments, gardens, and common space.

tasty and healthy

The change in the curriculum will mean all schools from primary upwards will have food growing, cooking, selling and nutrition at the core of every academic subject. This will make each subject easier to learn via links to practical life skills.

Other life skills like yoga,(reduce the £1B NHS spend on back pain) home accounting, basic engineering/repairs, basic electronics, animal welfare (45 percent of the UK population own a pet) and first aid can also be included.

Every school to have a growing space for fruit & veg, fruit & nut trees as well as polly tunnels and indoor space for hydroponics.

Each school to grow food for the school kitchen and meals and link to a local shop to sell any excess produce and potentially earn income for the school.

Children to be encouraged to take plants and produce home, to grow and cook with their families. Grand parents will be encouraged to help with the veg patch as well as pick and sell produce in the holidays.

Local raw milk

Local farmers to be encouraged to contribute to maintaining the veg patch or organising farm visits and nature trails.

Likewise local businesses restaurants, hotels and pubs can be invited to get involved and source their ingredients from the school, and participating growers.

Seasonal food celebrations to be organised to bring the community together and encourage all to get involved.

In time this will:

I love veg now

1. Improve health as kids and parents learn about healthy ingredients, how to cook and exercise
2. Build communities that include everyone and care for each other
3. Decrease waste by eating whole crops (75% of some veg is thrown away) without packaging or food miles
4. Increase happiness as people learn how to eat cheaply, build self worth and feel part of a community
5. Create jobs as more people & businesses demand local food requiring greater production
6. Improve the UK economy as greater local and home production decreases imports
7. Improve the environment as we cut food miles, fertiliser and chemicals

Blue Sky thinking? Or WOW, that is a big list of benefits. Could it happen?

Buy fresh, ‘picked today’ NO plastic, from your local farm shop

– It should appeal to all; in the UK we spend £150 billion on food and most people eat 3 times a day
– Changing the curriculum is not difficult but requires the will of government. Petition here
– Some schools have adapted the curriculum already and could help write a new one
– Over half our schools already have veg patches or gardens
– Farmers are keen to do something as proved by Open Farm Sunday every year
– Income from Sugar tax and farm subsidies could help fund the change
– Many projects in schools have proved the concept with amazing results; BBC video here
– BigBarn has a constantly updating shared Local Food Map to help promote & link local food businesses
– People love food festivals so should love a local seasonal celebration and join in
– The idea still involves ‘money’ to create jobs and provide incentive to grow food

Learning to forage

– There is a growing interest in good food as proved by the number of TV food & cooking programs
– Our ‘throw away’ society and lack of skills mean a local repair shop could be popular providing jobs for fixers.
– Modern technology will allow community building ideas & videos to be shared online

What do you think? Here are some questions and answers we have had so far:

Q: Is a little knowledge like ‘basic engineering/repairs, basic electronics and first aid’ dangerous?
A: Not if the dangers of basic knowledge are dealt with in the course

Q: If the school is the centre how do you include people without their own children?
A: The community will be built by including neighbours and friends and through shops and pubs inviting local suppliers

Tasty. And really good for them.

Q: Surely most people will still want the convenience and product range of the local supermarket?
A: In time people will realise that the locally produced food is cheaper and better. And learn to cook using basic ingredients. Some may even share or sell meals they have prepared. Ready Meals

Q: Many community projects rely on the dynamism of a single person or group. What happens if a community lacks this leadership?
A: There are so many benefits from a food community that a leader will not be a big requirement especially if the school growing scheme is working well and there are lots of videos available with best practice.

Q: It costs over £100,000 a year to put someone in prison and stats show that many inmates had learning difficulties at school. Will this idea help SEN (Special Education Needs) children?
A: Studies so far show a resounding ‘YES’ as academic subjects are made more interesting and more jobs are available. The idea will also work well within prisons to assist with rehabilitation

‘Let’s cook with these mum’

Q: How does this work economically?
A: Compare buying food from a supermarket to buying and cooking local produce
Supermarket vegetarian ready meal : Cost £3 Money to local Community £0.5p (local supermarket staff)
Cook a vegetarian meal using local veg: Cost £1 Money to local Community £1
So cooking a meal from local veg will save £2 and put £1 in to the local economy to encourage more production
As local trade grows, the £120B we spend on food in the supermarkets can move away from corporates like Tesco, Coca Cola, Nestle and ABF to local communities with massive benefits for all.

Your comments are welcome below.

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