I started to run my first Edible School Playground in London over 4 years ago. I thought that growing food in a school would be the best use of the precious outdoor space and I set about starting my first totally edible school garden. I wanted to give the school a space where teachers could take their classes to teach outside for practical hands on learning, where children could experience harvesting and eating their own homegrown food and a space to link the school to its natural environment.
I set up my gardens so that they function as outdoor classrooms, so that a class of children can come outside and feel safe and engaged within the garden. Once the gardens are built, (often calling on local corporate volunteers to help) I will have created a space that will inspire not just pupils but also the teachers, parents and the local community.
We grow some unusual fruits and vegetables that inspire the pupils to get them excited and surprised about gardening. I run lessons across all curriculum subjects using the garden as a hands on teaching resource.
I now run four edible playgrounds in East London at Chisenhale, John Scurr, Orchard and Southwold Primary schools where I run projects throughout the year to get the garden integrated into the curriculum for all year groups. I love my gardens and the reward of a child discovering the world of gardening and food is incredible.
Working with schools gardens led me to write my first gardening book- Grow Your Own Ingredients-Pasta Sauce. I have also written ‘Homegrown Tea- how to grow and blend your own homegrown teas and tisanes’ and ‘Grow Your Own Ingredients- Ice Cream’. Please visit my website http://www.cassieliversidge.com or follow me on twitter and Facebook.
If your school is interested in starting an edible playground please contact me via my contacts page.