Food Growing Activities in Schools

Claire Easton, Gill Featherstone, Kerry Martin, Jane Nicholas, Julie Nelson

01 November 2011

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Garden Organic commissioned NFER to carry out a review of relevant UK and international literature related to the impacts of food growing in schools activities and a baseline survey of the extent and nature of food growing activities in schools and early years settings (undertaken between August and September 2011). Both activities informed the work of the Government-backed Food Growing in Schools Taskforce which reported in March 2012. Our research findings may also be of interest to early years settings, schools and local communities interested in promoting food growing with children and young people.

Key Findings

80% of responding schools and early years settings currently grow food to varying degrees, of these, 52% grow food organically.

Primary schools are more likely to grow food than secondary schools and early years settings, furthermore institutions in urban settings are more likely to participate in food growing compared to those in rural areas.

Research confirms that involvement in food growing in schools activities has positive impacts on:

  • pupils' science scores
  • pupils' horticultural knowledge
  • pupils' nutrition (specifically: willingness to try new foods; and ability to recognise and describe a variety of fruit and vegetables).
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