5 reasons why schools should have an Edible Playground
By | March 6, 2018

“Once children are helped to perceive themselves as authors and inventors, once they are helped to discover the pleasures of inquiry, their motivation and interest explode.”
– Loris Malaguzzi, Reggio Emilia

Do you remember when you were a child and the world was so full of wonder? Filled with promise, it was fresh, new and exciting.

Edible Playgrounds transform school grounds into vibrant teaching gardens, immersing children into a whole new world of growing and eating healthy, delicious food. With an edible playground at your school, your pupils will benefit from fun, engaging lessons that support the school curriculum, and get excited about their health.

Here are five reasons why you should make sure your school is in with a chance of getting a fresh, immersive outdoor learning space.

1. Spark your pupils’ imaginations
Few things are more amazing than planting tiny seeds with your own hands, watching the shoots and buds grow before your eyes.

Sadly, many children miss out on this experience and don’t understand where their food comes from. 33% of pupils in UK primary schools surveyed by the British Nutrition Foundation thought that cheese came from plants, while 25% believed that fish fingers came from chicken or pigs. Edible Playgrounds give children the chance to not only learn where their food really comes from, but provide a different, deeper thrill to what speedy modern life offers. Andrew Tremarco, Head of St Teresa de Lisieux Primary School commented: “We want everyone to have those all-important memories of growing their own food, knowing where it comes from and experiencing the tasting of a wider variety of fruit and vegetables.”

2. Boost concentration, health, and well being
Children are busier and more stressed than ever before. Anxiety is more common and attention spans are getting shorter. Studies show that spending time outdoors, soaking in nature, not only improves attention, but also has a soothing effect on children’s mental health. What’s more, research by the RHS found that gardening in schools can help children to develop ‘a more resilient, confident and responsible approach to life’.

This shines through with Edible Playgrounds. 70% of the schools we surveyed said the immersive and fun outdoor spaces have supported their work with special educational needs (SEN) students or those with challenging behaviour.

Figures from Public Health England show that a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds are overweight or obese. Edible playgrounds make physical activity fun and encourage them to eat more fruit and vegetables, helping improve their general health.

3. Make learning even more fun
Playing outside and getting muddy is fun! With urban life leaving us cocooned in concrete, today’s children miss out on the freedom to roam around their natural environment.

Edible Playgrounds give children the chance to enjoy all that the outdoors has to offer, whilst learning about the world around them in a fun, engaging way.

Think you’ll only be able to teach gardening and healthy eating in an Edible Playground? Teachers have used them as a different backdrop to their Maths, English, Science and Art lessons, and so much more!

Edible Playgrounds bring outdoor learning into the curriculum and help you to deliver core lessons in new creative ways. 92% of pupils said they enjoyed being in the edible playground and over 60% would like to spend more time in the edible playground.

Teachers love them too! Head Teachers commented on increased knowledge in other areas and shifts in behaviours. These included significant improvements in: Knowledge of the natural environment, knowledge of where food comes from, willingness to try fruits and vegetables, knowledge of science, positive attitudes towards healthy eating and social skills.

4. Help children unlock their potential
Could you be teaching the next Van Gogh, Chris Pakham, Thoreau or Jane Goodall? Early positive experiences can become the inspirational foundations for future professions or a hobby that will benefit them for the rest of their life. Your edible playground could be that first experience that sets a child on that path to unlocking their true potential.

Mr Martin Giles, Head Teacher at Meridian High said: “We have very quickly seen that the students have a real ownership of, and pride in, what they are doing in the garden. Their minds have been awakened to new possibilities.”

5. Inspire children to collaborate
The incredible people who have worked with us to excite over 7,000 school children about healthy food know one thing: we can achieve more when we do it together! Edible Playgrounds give children a chance to work together in a fresh, exciting environment, where they can build their confidence, and learn communication, cooperation and other soft skills. This not only sets them on the right path for their future careers, but helps them be happy, confident and productive members of society who enjoy building relationships with other people. 56% of teachers noticed increased confidence in children’s behaviour due to participating in activities in the edible playground.

Yvonne Morris, Edible Playground Lead at Hitherfield Primary School in Lambeth told us: “It’s a wonderful addition to the school and the children benefit emotionally and academically.”

So what’s stopping you? Go grab this opportunity for your school now!

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.”
– Walt Whitman

Gurnam Bubber is a volunteer for Trees for Cities