With increasing concerns about childhood obesity, life expectancy and poor diets, it is vital that we find more ways to connect children with food, to increase their understanding of where it comes from and how to eat healthily. A new project at Springhead will be doing just that, by getting more people involved in growing, cooking and eating fresh produce.
Springhead has just appointed a co-ordinator for our new Productive Gardens Project, thanks to a grant from the Postcode Community Trust, a grant-giving charity funded by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. Catherine Simmonds (pictured in the kitchen gardens), will be working with staff and volunteers from the local community, to make sure that vegetables from the kitchen gardens, fruit from the orchards and wild food from hedgerows, is cooked in Springhead’s kitchen for school groups and other visitors. Children will be involved in planting, harvesting and cooking as well as eating, she explains: ‘Activities like cooking pizzas using fresh tomatoes they have picked in our greenhouse and onions from our kitchen garden, will really help children understand where food comes from.’
Many schools from Dorset and outside the county already come to Springhead for day and residential visits, and it is hoped that the project will enable more children to enjoy and learn from our 15 acre grounds which include landscaped gardens, a lake and chalk stream as well as the organic kitchen gardens and orchards.
Another aspect of Catherine’s role will be to develop links with the local community, for example through opportunities to volunteer with the scheme, and potentially the development of community growing areas and orchards. ‘I would love to hear from anyone wanting to get involved as the project develops’ says Catherine. ‘From joining a jam or chutney making day to coming along to a productive gardens working party.’
Meanwhile, Catherine is busy planning where to put the new herb garden, how to restore Springhead’s old orchards, and how to make the kitchen gardens welcoming for wildlife as well as people. ‘With Spring approaching, I’m very excited about making the kitchen gardens both useful and beautiful, for example by mixing leafy and flowering plants. We want our productive gardens to be welcoming as a space to enjoy, as well as offering good forage for pollinators and birds.’
‘The Springhead Trust is very grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery and the Postcode Community Trust for its support of the project’ says Edward Parker, Springhead’s Director. Anyone wishing to get involved can email [email protected] or call 01747 811853.