Schools seem to love the Edible Project, and it is understandable… We planted the seed.....but how do you start?
Sprout - Form a parents edible group
Talk about the edible idea to a few parents who you think might be interested - 3 or 4 is a good start - have a chat about what could be nice to see happening in your children’s school in the future years and see if you can initiate a parents edible group.
Explain that the initial step for this core group is to put together a few simple ideas to present to the principal (and later, if approved, to the pupils) and to volunteer from time to time to help carry out the different activities. (And invite the other parents too! The more the merrier!)
Think big and start small!
Parents don’t need to be experts in gardening or horticulture, or be environmentalists… everyone can contribute, and if you need some extra advice, the Edible Network is here to help.
Your edible school group can avail of WEN’s support at any stage of the process.
We are happy to offer our Slack and/or Zoom accounts, for groups to share ideas and have edible-meetings. Our organisers can set things up and, if requested, participate in the meetings, answering any questions and helping the group starting off.
All this is free and optional, and although some level of commitment is required to carry on with the project, this should be felt as a pleasure and never as a job, it is your own time… make it fun!
When you feel confident about your edible parents group and have a couple of simple ideas to suggest, you are ready to :
2. Seedling - Contact the school!
Talk or send an email to the Principal to present your Edible School project and the group of parents volunteers, and enquire if the school would consider it.
Be sure to include:
a brief overview of where the idea came from and the purposes of the project
who is involved so far and how the group intends to cooperate with the school
add samples of brainstorming ideas
If you wish, you can add photos and sketches, they are helpful to visualize what it could look like... (Ask somebody you know with drawing skills to give you a hand here! If nobody volunteers, ask the Network!)
When imagining the edible school, we would encourage to include 2 aspects:
Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Restoration by Regenerative Permaculture:
This part of the plan aims to regenerate biodiverse habitats in areas in and around the school that are not in use by anyone and could be enhanced by establishing edible permaculture gardens. This is to accelerate the beneficial outcomes from increasing biodiversity in our environment and will offer first hand experience and practical teachings of community power, volunteering, resilience, kindness and forward thinking to all involved.
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now..."
The garden activities could be related to many environmental topics during the lessons in class, and can provide practical examples that will also reinforce ethical teachings of resilience, collaboration vs competition, better vs more, of equality and respect.
We feel confident that in ENVITE there is something for everyone… so fingers crossed!
You surely know best how to approach your principal, but if you need, please find here a sample email to get inspiration from.
If you get a positive response… CONGRATULATIONS!
Now is time to work together with the school (and us) to
3. Budding - Prepare the plan!
It really is up to each different group to create their own bespoke plan, but here are a few points to keep in mind:
The parents and members of the Edible Network will be responsible for their own safety while carrying out the actions.
If the desired area is within the school’s grounds, the group will need the principal’s approval.
If outside the school’s grounds there will be a need for the agreement with whoever owns/manages that particular area (Tidy Towns, Council? Privately owned?). Just ask, it’s worth a try!
All potential areas should be assessed by a group of people, ideally the principal, a teacher volunteer, the school groundskeeper, a parent volunteer and a permaculture expert, to have a better understanding of what really is achievable in the short, medium and long term.
The planting actions would be carried out mostly by members of this group and, where possible, together with the pupils.
Environmental Educational Program:
This part requires more time and thinking, and it is essential to work it out with the school staff.
Most schools already follow sowing/growing/food related projects, we surely don’t want to impose or add more work, on the contrary we would like to offer the teachers our support and the support of the entire community in educating our children, and offer coherence at home.
Ask the school what programs they are currently adopting, study them so as to avoid duplication and the same mistakes.
Students are currently striking to get environmental studies honestly taught as a core subject in primary and secondary schools in Ireland.
At the moment some of the programs offered to schools, sponsored not only by government bodies but also by farming lobbies, contain a lot of misinformation on the sustainability of farming practices in Ireland, and a lot of greenwashing about the sustainability of the products and gadgets offered.
It is fundamental to provide our children with honest information and coherent follow up actions, with ENViTE we can achieve all this in an appropriate and loving manner, we can reassure them that solutions not only exist, but are at hand and we are bringing them to school!
We highly encourage to tie these actions with the Friday for Future movement. In support of the students striking all over the world, our schools could participate in a climate action every Friday, dedicating time to environmental lessons in class and carrying out outdoor gardening activities (a few classes per Friday maybe?) Students need to feel they can shape their own future, and being part of such a powerful young movement will encourage them!
In fact, it’s all about our children, and they will play the important role of deciding what to do!The draft proposal/s will be submitted to the principal and the pupils, for them to ultimately define the details (varieties of plants, topics to explore, activities to carry out...)
When the final approval comes all you need to do is gather some seeds, tools and hands and…
4. Flowering - Let’s GrOw!
And have fun doing it! Share the load and keep up the enthusiasm, we are all in this together!
Hope these guidelines are helpful! Best of Luck and don’t hesitate to contact the Edible Network for anything else you may need. firstname.lastname@example.org