Not only have enterprising students at one Nottinghamshire school started growing their own fruit and vegetables, they are also getting paid for it.
Pupils at Tuxford Academy have been reimbursed in garden vouchers by Nottinghamshire County Council for the first few deliveries of fresh produce they’ve supplied to the school kitchen for pupil lunches.
And now the Council is appealing to schools across the county to get planting and become ‘micro-suppliers’ to their own schools.
Helen Fifoot, catering team manager at the Council which supplies meals to the Tuxford school, said: “Schools know how passionate we are about sourcing produce locally and the health and economic benefits this brings - you don’t get much more local than this.”
The students’ first invoice totalled £41, but they have grand plans to step up production.
“The first voucher payment covered lettuces, fruit and herbs. Those students involved in cultivating the kitchen garden supplied this produce to the school before the summer holidays. But now they’re stepping up a gear preparing for the coming season, sowing winter lettuces and cabbages and planting seeds for produce which reflects meals planned on the school menu,” Helen added.
“It’s a great initiative and we’re inviting other schools across the county to get green fingers. We pay Tuxford the going rate in garden vouchers we’d pay the equivalent commercial vegetable supplier, so it’s very much win-win - a great way for students to explore their entrepreneurial potential as well as learning more about growing their own food, working with the seasons and healthy eating.”
School catering manager Alison Harvey said: "It's a pleasure to be cooking with fresh produce the students have grown themselves that's straight out of the garden and to see them so enthused about growing their own food."
Sandy Dodd, Tuxford’s ‘food champion’ said: "Along with academy chain, Transform Schools and Cofely, which also works with us across the other Bassetlaw PFI schools, we hope that the students’ early success will encourage other schools and academies to start producing fruit and vegetables for their school kitchens."
Locally bought products and ingredients make up between 70 and 80 percent of what you’d find on the plate of an average school dinner across Nottinghamshire. And local sourcing helps to support East Midlands and Nottinghamshire farmers and suppliers, providing a boost to our economy and reducing food miles.
Last year the County Council became one of the first local authorities in the country to be awarded the Soil Association’s top gold catering mark for its school meals. The award recognised its commitment to delivering tasty, healthy, locally sourced food and seasonal produce and teaching children the importance of good quality ingredients.