Last week, students from three schools in Walworth traded produce they grew themselves – courgette flowers, broad beans, shallots and rainbow chard – at the East Street Market.
The produce was all organic, travelled less than two miles to reach the market, and had been grown over the last term by students from St Peters CE Primary, St Paul’s CE Primary, and University Academy of Engineering South Bank.
The students’ market stall was among those of professional market traders, so the students were able to make connections, as well as raise money for more seeds, gardening tools, and cooking equipment.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for the children,” Rebecca Bagnall, a teacher at St Paul’s Primary School, said. “They surprised me with their marketing skills.”
Part of the Healthy Zones initiative, supported by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, the two-year program aims to tackle childhood obesity from a more holistic approach.
Over 37% of of 10 and 11 year-olds are either obese or overweight in London, and Healthy Zones teaches children where their food comes from, as well as life-long skills, such as how to prepare healthy meals, setting them up for a good understanding of food and nutrition in their futures.
As part of the scheme, the schools received a visit from professional gardener teacher Cath Baynton, and BBC Saturday Kitchen’s Michaela Bowles, helping the students to establish food-growing spaces and create healthy, simple recipes.
“With local rates of childhood obesity amongst some of the highest in the country, neighbourhood initiatives like this are really important,” said Sarah Hickey, Child Obesity Programme Director at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.
“This event is a wonderful example of how we can engage young people positively with food and the nutritious options available. It’s part of a wider programme of activity that’s aiming to see how different initiatives working together can promote nutritious diets and everyday activity to help reduce rates of childhood obesity.”