Gardening and Growing is the foundation of food education
Food education is on everyone’s agenda: From Jamie Oliver to Bord Bia’s Food Dudes programme, from the Irish Restaurants Association to Food on the Edge, from Weight Watchers to Slow Food, from the Taste Council to Tesco, from the Irish Food Writers Guild to GIY. Food Education, showing where food comes from and teaching how to produce it and consume it, was and still is our mission since 1995 when the centre was founded.
JP McMahon, curator of Food on the Edge says: “Food is as important as maths. We need a food subject that takes in agriculture, farming, science, geography, and history.”
There are numerous initiatives to equip children with food and nutrition education in the kitchen and in the classroom to empower them with lifelong skills. Research on food education has proven that knowledge about food and nutrition increases children’s fruit and vegetable consumption.
The reach and effectiveness of these initiatives varies greatly. At primary level, food education happens through SPHE and includes a range of programmes. One of these, Bord Bia’s Food Dudes programme, which encourages children to try fruit and vegetables, now has a very wide reach.
In secondary schools, food education is primarily covered in home economics, biology, and SPHE, along with some transition year programmes.
What is very often missing in these initiatives is that food grows in soil and starts with a seed. I strongly believe that real food education starts with an edible school garden in every school. Only if we make the connection from healthy soil full of nutrients for vegetables to grow to healthy food full of nutrients for us to eat, real change will happen.
Free gardening classes for families and teachers conference in 2018
To move food education forward in 2018 we will offer free gardening classes for families at The Organic Centre on 4 Sunday afternoons, see www.theorganiccentre.ie for details.
The Teachers Conference on Organic School Gardens, on Saturday 10th March, aimed also at parents, caretakers and community gardeners will provide up to date research on the many benefits of school gardens and also hands-on practical advice on how to integrate the garden with all the other subjects of the curriculum.
Our 2018 course programme and seed catalogue are out!
New and improved courses in 2018:
Our course “Organic gardening for beginners” has undergone changes based on your feedback and will now even be more practical, considering the importance of sun, soil, shelter, seeds, compost, and manure. The new “Complete organic kitchen garden” course, running twice this year, will try to answer all your questions on growing the best vegetables, herbs, and fruit and preserve them over the Winter in a very interactive way.
In other new courses you can learn about “Social and Therapeutic Horticulture”, you can “Learn how to grow flowers all year round” and “Get to know your soil and learn how to improve it” and while forest “bathing” is the latest recreational trend we offer you “Woodland wonders – Get to know your trees”
Charles Dowding is back by popular demand for his “No dig gardening“ course, this time early May and we also welcome GIY founder Michael Kelly for a “Beginners guide to GROWing”. These courses will fill up quickly so early booking is advised!
Gift vouchers are available as Christmas gifts.