8 April 2021
A new kitchen garden and some windowsill space in the Food Room at St Mary’s School, Cambridge, will provide students with a deeper understanding of where their food comes from whilst they plant seeds, tend to the plants, harvest and then use the products.
‘Grow, Cook, Eat’ is a club for students who are keen to grow fruit, vegetables and culinary herbs in order to use them in relevant lessons or extra cooking sessions throughout the school year. Students can learn how to grow, harvest, prepare and share seasonal fresh food and the school hopes that this will positively influence their food choices as well as teach the girls about a broad range of sustainability issues.
The benefits of such a scheme are clear. Gardening can be used for numeracy skills, including taking measurements, learning about areas and volumes, data gathering and presentation, as well as for literacy, in terms of labelling plants, recording and describing plant development and undertaking research. It also yields valuable insights in terms of science and technology (growth and reproduction, testing soil pH, and much more). The seeds come from a charitable organisation called Cultivating Change, who are donating seeds to set up and support mental health and well-being through gardening, growing your own and the forging of supportive virtual communities. Students sowed seeds of nasturtiums, coriander, microgreens such as radish rioja, wild rocket and mixed salad leaves. They have been charged with watering them and looking after them until they are ready to use them in recipes.
Year 9 were allocated a bird feeder for each form. Representatives from each form filled their feeders with seeds and chose a place in the garden to locate it. They are now responsible for checking it is full and watching out for which birds come and visit! The aim of this is to encourage the girls to get outside and be part of nature, which is proven to help to boost mental health and reduce anxiety.