A new partnership has been established between Ballymaloe Cookery School and Grow It Yourself (GIY), which will see a slow food educational project delivered at nine schools in east Cork.
GIY founder, Michael Kelly, developed the Grow Circle, a sustainable funding model of social enterprise enabling organisations of all sizes to contribute to the benefit of society through partnership. Ballymaloe Cookery School has become the latest Grow Circle member and it has announaced that it will sponsor school gardens at nine local primary schools for the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project.
The pupils at Shanagarry National School, Cork, joined Mr Kelly and Ballymaloe's Darina Allen to launch the new project and for a lesson on learning to grow their own food. Through the programme, the nine primary schools will be able to avail of GIY’s knowledge and experience teaching children and adults how to grow some of their own food.
The schools will be supported by GIY as they start or develop an already existing school garden; the team will visit the schools this spring imparting expert educational resources with a monthly educational resource pack, tailor-made for each school which will include: tips on what to grow and when; a growing calendar; lesson plans; and other food empathy messages. The participating schools will be asked to register to become part of the GIY ChangeX community platform to share knowledge and cross-pollinate with other like-minded groups. Each school will also be given a €250 voucher to spend on kitting out their gardens.
Speaking at the launch, Darina Allen said: "East Cork Slow Food Educational Project is delighted to partner with GIY’s Grow Circle to continue to develop edible gardens in local schools, providing the children with an exciting hands-on experience of growing their own food. This is an invaluable life skill not currently on the curriculum, which will help to stimulate enthusiasm for delicious and nutritious homegrown food and the health benefits that go with it."
The initiative will get underway immediately with five schools in Cork and the remaining four will join in the programme over the coming months.
Commenting on the partnership Michael Kelly said: "We are delighted to partner with Ballymaloe Cookery School and Slow Food Ireland to launch this brilliant food education initiative for primary school children. The partnership brings growing right into the heart of the schools and offers students a chance to get their hands dirty and have lots of fun while learning. Together, we will build on GIY's principals of food empathy, which instils a better understanding and appreciation of where food comes from. We’re looking forward to working with other innovative partners across the country to bring food empathy, health and happiness to their local communities.”
The Grow Circle offers organisations, businesses and companies the opportunity to sponsor a GIY initiative that benefits their employees, their community, schools in their area, or a social cause close to their heart. Opportunities range from supporting community markets in rural areas to social and therapeutic horticulture programmes in drug rehabilitation and direct provision centres, to delivering social eating programmes or installing gardens in schools.