Sunderland school’s Eco Garden initiative helps students learn about the process of “field to fork”

Pupils at a city school have been learning about the cultivation process of “field to fork” by growing their own food in the school’s Eco Garden.

By Neil Fatkin
Friday, 25th March 2022, 12:11 pm

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Sandhill View Academy’s Eco Club students have been converting an area of the school’s grounds into plant beds to grow a range of vegetables including potatoes, peas, lettuces, tomatoes and cabbages.

Pupils have planted the seeds, which have now germinated in their indoor pots, and will soon be ready to be transferred into the newly created vegetable plots.

Club member Darcie Peters, 14, said: “I have enjoyed the project and I’m really looking forward to being able to eat the food. I think when you grow something yourself you are less likely to waste it.”

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Jayden Poolan, 14, added: “It’s important to know where your food comes from and how it has been made.”

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After being transferred to the planting beds, crops will be harvested for students to cook in their Food Technology lessons, take home to share with families and some of the vegetables will also be used in the school’s canteen.

Niall Aston, 13, said: “I had given some thought to where my food comes from but I know not everyone does. It’s good for your mental health to get outside of the classroom and do something practical.”

Members of the Sandhill View Academy Eco Club at the school's new Eco Garden. Picture by FRANK REID

Dylan Douglas, 14, added: “I’ve planted cabbages, sweet potatoes and chillies and I can’t wait to eat them.”

The Eco Club hope the initiative will help the school to achieve the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society School Garden Awards – five levels of recognition for schools which have utilised their grounds as a learning resource to promote cultivation and sustainability.

Geography teacher Aidan Hodgson, who oversees the Eco Club, said: “I think it is really important that children understand where their food comes from and the cultivation process from field to fork. What better way to do this than growing your own food.

Naill Alston, 13, sets about clearing a plant bed. Picture by FRANK REID

"It also provides a practical setting for some students to thrive in a different environment.

The garden is just one of a number of initiatives run by the Eco Club, including planting 450 trees and creating a worm composter to reduce waste.

Mr Hodgson added: “It’s important for the students to learn about sustainability and the trees will help provide wildlife corridors and offset our carbon emissions.”

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Darcie Peters, 14, believes growing your own food makes people less likely to waste it. Picture by FRANK REID

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Sandhill View Academy pupil Ava McCully working away in the garden. Picture by FRANK REID
Geography teacher Aidan Hodgson feels it is important that children have an awareness of where their food comes from. Picture by FRANK REID