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The last few weeks have been a very active time for the Food Glorious Food project ... 

Celebration Event - 6th July - County Hall 

Last Wednesday was the final celebration event for our Food Glorious Food project. We spent the morning at County Hall, hearing from 5 of our project schools about their Food Glorious Food journey.

After an introduction to the project, each school gave a brilliant presentation on what they have been doing and learning over the last 6 months. Well done to all the children, who so bravely stood at the top of the chamber and spoke so clearly and confidently. Thank you in particular to St David’s, who sent two lovely video presentations and a set of project learning journals to show in their absence. These were ably introduced by their local councillor, Cllr Luke Sills.

Over the course of the morning, we heard from pupils about researching foods, growing and looking after plants and visiting dairies (complete with amusing outfits!) There were smoothie-making sessions, farm visits, bread-making workshops and bug hotels. But the activity which appeared to be the most popular with the audience was the visit from a pupil’s farm ducks, which all had marvellous names!

In between presentations, we did some food-related activities, such as determining the country of origin of popular foods, and calculating food miles in a family’s breakfast (with only a few points of contention from the grown-ups). At lunchtime, we shared a picnic lunch and enjoyed vegetable-sorting relay races – categorising a box of veggies by their respective families. Root, salad or allium, anyone?!

It was very exciting for all of us to occupy the magnificent council chamber, and to be joined by a great number of special guests. These included various food professionals and project partners, in addition to numerous city and county councillors, all of whom came to celebrate the achievements of the young people they represent.

After break, we hosted a panel discussion with County Councillors Jill Owen and Andy Hannan, food issues expert and long-standing retired councillor Saxon Spence, and Food For Life Senior Programme Manager, Polly Frost. The panel answered a number of important and interesting questions from the children, including: “What can the council do to help people set up community gardens?” and the very intriguing enquiry “Who plants all the trees and bushes at the sides of the roads?”

The panel culminated with an open floor discussion around the question “If you had complete authority and unlimited budget to address food issues in Exeter, what would you do or change?” There were many thoughtful and intelligent suggestions from the children, including: providing food for all the homeless people, and requiring all new housing developments or estates to have vegetable gardens and provide training on how to grow crops.

The morning culminated in the announcement of the gardening competition results. We were very privileged to be joined by the Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Exeter, Councillor Cynthia Thompson, who joined us to present the competition certificates. Congratulations to Wynstream Primary School, who won several categories, and were named as overall winners!

We are now wrapping up round 1 of Food Glorious Food, ready to hopefully run the project again in the new academic year. Do get in touch if you’re interested in being involved. All are welcome: schools, food producers, gardeners, members of the public. 

Respect Festival 11th June 2016

WP 20160611 14 32 57 ProWe had a lovely time at the Respect Festival last weekend, hosting our very own Big Lunch as part of our Food Glorious Food project. We were joined by representatives from one of our project schools, in addition to almost 30 members of the public. The Big Lunch is envisaged as a “a simple act of community, friendship and fun” – and that’s definitely what we had! We enjoyed delicious picnic food, and one of our attendants commented that she enjoyed “sharing food and conversation with friends”. We’re hoping to make the Big Lunch an annual part of DDE’s Respect festival day – so make sure to come and join us next summer!  

Asaph Gheno Were - May 2016 

We've just finished a fantastic fortnight of school visits for the Food Glorious Food project with our visiting Ugandan headteacher, Asaph Gheno Were. Kisoko boys HT  GT - for webAsaph leads one of DDE’s link schools, Kisoko Boys’ Primary School in Tororo (Eastern Uganda). He is responsible for over 1600 children. Asaph’s school is very special, because it has a huge and flourishing farm attached to it (mostly arable – though there are hens and goats too!) The school grows lots of crops to supply the school kitchen, such as maize, sim-sim (sesame), aubergine, tomatoes, pineapples and mangoes. They also nurture excess produce and ‘cash crops’ (like cotton), which are used to fund school resources like uniforms and textbooks. All the children work on the farm daily, and are expert gardeners.

We wanted to let our project schools here in England know about different, more sustainable ways of sourcing, producing and consuming food, and introduce them to a different culture. So during May, we spent 8 days in school, working with classes to learn all about Uganda, Asaph's school, and Ugandan food culture and growing practices.

We began our days with some Ugandan greetings. We learnt a little Dhopadhola (the main language of Asaph’s area), and some ways of saying ‘thank you’ or expressing your appreciation for something through your body: ‘giving flowers’, a ‘thunderclap’ or clicking and stamping. Most of the children thought they were much more fun than a boring round of applause!

Next we used eagle eyes and curious, critical minds to examine photographs and ask insightful questions about Asaph’s school. Did you know… each class has over 100 children, they have a completely democratically elected school council, and every child in the school works on the farm?!

We then learnt about traditional Ugandan crops, including how they are farmed, and tickled our tastebuds cooking some traditional 'posho and beans',. This is a meal comprised of maize porridge and a tomato-based bean stew. It received mixed receptions – but overall, most people liked it! Almost all the children were brave and tasted something new.

We looked at some Ugandan food diaries, and compared what the children there eat with what we eat here in the UK. At lunchtime, we were ably looked after by the students, who showed us their schools, classrooms, libraries and gardens – and introduced Asaph to some British playground games!

We also got our hands dirty making 'bag gardens': a glorified version of a gro-bag, made from a sugar sack, and featuring plants growing out of the top and sides of the bag. These are very common and popular in Uganda. They are kept on verandas / by kitchen doors, enabling families to have quick and easy access to fresh, healthy vegetables.

Over the course of the day, we compared what we were seeing, doing and learning about Uganda with our own food practices here in England. We mused upon what we could learn from Asaph’s school, and how this could help us to improve our own food habits.

We had a wonderful time bringing together Asaph with the Food Glorious Food schools. Plenty was learnt and enjoyed – by the pupils, and by Asaph himself, who intends to take what he has learnt from our schools back to his school. 

More to come!

Digging Day - 18 April 2016

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Last Monday, Nicole (our Project Coordinator) joined Montgomery Primary School to help dig over an area for a veg patch in their local park.The vegetable garden will be shared with green-fingered members of the St Thomas community - thank you to John Taylor from the St Thomas Community Association for suggesting the shared growing space. Well done on your hard work digging Montgomery! A big thank you goes to all the staff and parents who helped out, and to our little furry friend, who did some excellent digging - shame it wasn't in the right place though!

Read about Montgomery School’s blog about the digging day and their community-shared veg patch here.

Ugandan teacher visiting in May 

Back in the office, we're busy planning the visit of Asaph Gheno Were, the headteacher of one of our Ugandan link schools. Asaph will be coming to visit all of the Glorious Food Groups in May, and running some exciting activities based around Ugandan foods and veg-growing. Watch this space!

Food activities and gardening getting underway - April 2016

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Lots has been happening with the Food Glorious Food Project over the last few weeks. Montgomery spread the Fair Trade message through a whole-school assembly based on their learning at last month’s Fair Trade spices workshop. Willowbrook and St Martin's Primary Schools have both been visited by the Love Local Food mobile shop. The children took part in a variety of fun food activities, including making kale smoothies, constructing human bar charts of shopping habits, discussing food journeys, and making an Exeter food map. You can read more about their fantastic visits here (scroll down for the right posts!)

Lots of our schools have been preparing gardens and planting vegetables for the gardening competition; Wynstream have even constructed a greenhouse! 

Fairtrade Fortnight - March 2016

After a busy few weeks of planning and recruiting schools, we ran our first project activity: a workshop on Fairtrade and spices. DDE is chair of Fairtrade Devon, and we ran this workshop to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight. We welcomed staff and pupils from 7 of our 9 participating primary schools: Montgomery, Whipton Barton, St Davids, Wynstream, Redhills, Ladysmith Junior, and St Martins Cranbrook. The workshop was led by Sandhya Dave, with additional activities run by DDE volunteers.

Read about Montgomery School’s impressions of the workshop here.

Spicey Stories - borderedAfter learning about the importance of the Fairtrade scheme and its impact on communities in the developing world, the children heard some “Spicey Stories”. Sandhya wove together information about popular spices with the story of her own family’s journey to England, and the different important roles that spices have played in her own life. The children asked her some thoughtful and interesting questions, before moving on to learn about the history of the spice trade. We looked at the routes and methods by which explorers, merchants and travellers brought spices to Europe (including by camel and by galleon!), and heard about how some rare spices, like nutmeg, were prized so highly they were worth more than their weight in gold.

Spices  - Hands - webFinally, the group enjoyed a series of sense-based activities: examining, identifying, touching, smelling, tasting and discussing a series of different spices in their raw, refined, and processed forms. Most pupils enjoyed the black-pepper crisps and vanilla ice cream, but the crystallised ginger was less popular; boiling hot mouths sent many children running for water! Suffice to say, our intern Liam has been enjoying the rejected packet of ginger in the office this week…




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