We believe that the best way to fix the food industry, and our environment, is to build a more enlightened society that makes better food buying, health, and lifestyle, choices.
To make this happen we need the most effective influencers, children, to discover the ‘better way’ at school and why we are building a video library of how to help kids discover and be enthused by food growing, cooking, and nutrition.
Our new project provides an in school, weekly, interactive, activity that is filmed by one of the children. Each activity helps build the school’s food program and can be duplicated every year and provide a more holistic education.
Each week is linked to BigBarn’s schools project as the many of the traditional barriers to becoming a foodie school are broken down.
Week 1: Buy-in of the kids & teachers
The school year starts in apple season so what better way to get kids interested than give them something local and delicious. Fresh apple juice! Every school should have fruit trees and access to an apple juicer.
We also managed to discover pasteurisation, supply chains, windfall waste, healthy gut bacteria and cider making.
Week 2 & 3: Plan the food growing and bury some underpants
We need to surround our kids with food growing. If they grow it they normally want to taste it, and perhaps even make a meal with it. With this in mind we walked around the school grounds planting flags where we thought we could grow each food, or even animal like our chickens!
To take advantage of some wasted areas we decided that we needed some raised beds. To test the best compost we thought we would fill each one with a different animal manure and bury a pair of underpants in each to see which would decompose first. This would tell us which manure mix was the most productive for growing food.
Week 4: Composting and underpants
As we have space for 6 large raised beds beside the playground, and the raised beds are deep enough to be a compost bin, we thought more carefully about our composting. What could we add to retain water? What school waste could we use? And how long would the underpants last?
Week 5: Planting winter peas
Next year our raised beds will have an autumn crop of squash, pumpkins, greens and root crops, like beetroot and potatoes. This year we need to get a crop growing to help feed the soil biome and provide a constant reminder to the kids that food is growing all around them. We may even provide some spinach, chard or lettuce for the school kitchen!
How do we get our veg to grow quicker? Or protect it from pigeons and crows?
Week 6: Growing micro-greens
We think that every school dinning area should have shelves of fresh micro-greens that the children have grown. If planned well there will always be some ready for the children to cut and eat with their lunch box or school meal.
Here we get the kids interested by experimenting with some trays, seeds and growing medium. Eventually we will have some shelves and constantly revolving trays of different micro-greens at different growth stages. Some kids will taste them and say; “yuk” others will say; “yum”!
Week 7: Our winter crops, Late crop Potatoes & Growing micro-greens
We need to make sure all our outside growing areas and raised beds have a crop to feed the biome in our compost and soil. If we find fungi we can use an APP to identify whether it is poisonous and learn not to touch it.
Fantastic to see all the kids so excited about harvesting potatoes. We definitely need to get lots of bags planted up in the spring and perhaps give each child seed to grow at home.
Our micro-green trays have grown well and are ready to go on shelves in the dining room. We will now plan how to get a constantly ripening crop of different micro-greens ready for harvesting every day. How popular will they be? Will we need bigger trays and shelves?
Week 8: Making healthy Kimchi
Following on from our apple juice starting to ferment and our bacteria and biome in the soil, we all make Kimchi as a team. We learn about vegetables, fermentation, spices, gut bacteria, preserving with salt, and even making money!
Fantastic to see all the kids join in and get enthused about making something different. Once our Kimchi has matured I would love to see a bowl in the dining room that the kids can help themselves to. Just like the micro-greens.
Next year we will make it using veg that we have grown.
Week 9: Making healthy seasonal veg soup
What can be simpler and more delicious than wholesome, seasonal veg soup? But how do you get kids to eat it? Simple. Get them to team up chop and cook.
Fantastic to see all the kids join in and get enthused about tasting the ingredients raw then making something they couldn’t wait to taste. We made it in the school canteen meaning lots of other kids were watching and wanted to also try it.
Next year we will make it using veg that we have grown.
Week 10: Making pizza with bread
Pizza can be made cheaply and much healthier and cheaper. No additives and preservatives and very easy.
We tried 3 different types of bread and lots of toppings including tomatoes, cheese, mushrooms, red onion, peppers, olives, sweetcorn and herbs.
Fantastic to see all the kids join in and try tasting ingredients they thought they didn’t like
Everyone got involved and all loved the We made it in the school canteen meaning lots of other kids were watching and wanted to also try it.
Next year we will make our own dough and home grown ingredients, and use a pizza oven we plan to build.
Week 11: Savoury Pancake Day
We make savoury pancakes at Elsworth school.
Kids love pancakes and can be persuaded that other non-sweet fillings are just as tasty and far more nutritious!
It seems crazy that most people wait for pancake day to eat pancakes. Wouldn’t it be great if all kids knew how to make pancakes and cooked them regularly?
Week 12: TastED
We chat about and try the principals of TastED at Elsworth school.
The best way to get children to try different foods is to engage the senses of smell, touch and even hearing first. Normally this leads to wanting to taste what the senses have felt.
One child ‘hated’ tomatoes until he put headphones on and loved the crunchy sound when chewed a cherry tomato. TastEd is now on the curriculum and been a huge success. Even better if the kids grow the food they taste.
Week 13: Planting Strawberries & beans
We plant young strawberry plants in our strawberry tower and beans in loo rolls as well as pots.
We will then get the beans to climb the school wall and even supply the dinner ladies with fresh beans. We also planted some potatoes in bags and following the excitement of the potato harvest in week 7
Week 14: Foraging and making Sting Nettle Soup
What a great way to get children thinking about where their food comes from. Especially free, foraged, food during the cost of living crisis!
We added a chopped onion to our big saucepan then foraged some nettles from the school playground. We avoided any nettles with bird poo on and washed the rest before adding to the pan with some water and stock. Once sweated down and whizzed with a blender it was ready to taste. Wow, delicious. The children were so proud of what they had made they all wanted their teachers to try it.
Week 15: We taste or Kimchi and water our veg
The Kimchi we made has been fermenting for 2 months on a tray in the school hallway where everyone can see it.
It is ready for tasting. We decided that Mrs Bennet the head teacher should try to give the children something to look forward to next week! Amazing how many kids want to try it when they have made it themselves and see someone else enjoying it.
Week 16: We make sticky leaf and herb teas
There are lots of healthy herbs and plants that can be used to make healthy teas. From mint to stinging nettles to sticky weed or cleavers. Simply search the internet when you find a weed or plant and see if it is good for you as a tea.
We found that cleavers (sticky weeds) were good for the lymphatic system that could be great for kids who have eaten too many highly processed foods! At the end of the session our kids were telling their friends and teachers to stop drinking sweet, fizzy, drinks and switch to cleaver tea.
Perhaps even influence their family at home. WOW!
Week 17: We make sticky leaf and herb teas
We roasted some squash at home, set up a table in the playground and challenged the kids to taste the difference between, spaghetti squash, and the very similar looking mashed potato & baked potato squash. As squash are quite sweet they were very popular with spaghetti squash winning the most votes.
We collected all the seeds from the squash and will plant lots in the spring to repeat the tasting again next year.
We could even send the kids home with seeds or little plants to influence their family to grow and taste squash.
Week 18: School Seed collecting
We collected spinach and bean seeds from last years plants. Our Spinach plants left over the school holiday have become very overgrown but produced a huge number of seeds.
We all collected as many as we could and put some in the window to dry for next spring. As spinach is a hardy all year round crop we also planted some in the school polly tunnel.
We also want the children to take seeds home and grow a crop for their families.
Week 19: We taste Rambo Radish
Sometimes if you want children to try something it is better to tell them they will not like it. This certainly seemed to work when we took some very peppery Rambo Radish micro greens in to the playground.
As they are 40 times more nutritious than the full grown plant it was great to see so many children enjoying the greens and influencing their friends to taste.
Perhaps even influence their family at home and improve the health of the nation
Week 20: We make simple, healthy veg soup
Everyone should know how to make healthy vegetable soup. We set up our hop and big saucepan in the school dining room and got as many children as possible involved in chopping or grating onions, cabbage, potatoes and an overgrown courgette from the veg patch.
Even more children wanted to taste our soup with amazing results!