Latest on our school farmers' markets
Helen Carey - 23 November 2011
October has just whizzed by and it was a very busy month here in London. Early October saw me back at Bore Place Farm on the fourth residential visit with Millfields Primary School from Hackney. We caught the tail end of that lovely hot weather for the first couple of days which was a real treat. We did an apple tasting activity on the first afternoon - 8 heritage varieties - with wonderful names such as Sunset, Jester,and Michaelmas Red. On the final afternoon we walked to the orchard that the apples were from, and everyone was able to pick their favourite apple to take home.
Other activities included pizza and bread making, harvesting produce from the farm garden and then cooking a delicious meal from it, milking the cows, and making butter and cheese. A wonderful time was had by all. Millfields will hold their first farmers market on December 9th.
Jubilee School's market (14th Oct) which had a definite appley theme - was held on a beautiful sunny autumnal afternoon in the open air with several stalls situated in the orchard area. The sunshine certainly helped to attract a good crowd and the apple juice pressing was very popular indeed (courtesy of Hackney City Farm and Hackney Harvest). Other stalls included Bore Place Farm (that the children had visited) selling organic milk and veg, Stocks Farm in Essex selling apples and eggs, Capital Growth - chutneys and herbs, Growing Communities from Hackney selling salad and herbal teas, Lucille's Kitchen selling hot pumpkin soup, bread and toffee apples. Several pupils from Year 5 assisted on each of the stalls thereby getting practice in handling money and serving customers. Ben from E5 Bakehouse sold out of his bread in about 10 minutes flat! He had done a baking session at the school the day before to get people in the mood to buy bread... So, all in all the first market was a great success and various people said they would like to see it happening every week!
Poplar Primary School in Merton was next to hold their market (18th Oct) and again we were lucky to get another sunny day. Here the school had worked their socks off in an after-school farmers market club producing jars of home made jams and preserves. I bought 2 - Japonica & Coriander and Rosehip & apple Jelly. Yum yum! I also bought some local honey produced by a friend of the school. There were also a LOT of cakes served with tea and coffees... Other produce included school grown potatoes, school baked bread, freshly squeezed apple juice, milk from Bore Place farm and veg from the local Deen City Farm. Huge congratulations to Poplar who made around £500!
And then it was Sebright's turn! on 20th Oct to have their market - again huge efforts had gone into each year group making produce for their stalls - soup, bread, candles, peppermints, biscuits to mention a few. Also school grown bunched carrots and pumpkins... and guess what? The sun was shining again - for apple pressing in the playground alongside homemade Portuguese Bean Stew, hot pumpkin soup, bread, apples, vegetables, eggs and chutneys. Yum yum. I have put on a few pounds this last month with all this delicious food around.
And then... I was exhausted! so I had a few days off in the sunny Lake District and Edinburgh to build up some energy for the next farm trip (Nov 1-4) which was with the first Secondary School to take part in the programme so far - Eastlea Community School in Newham. 11 pupils from years 7 & 8 plus 3 of their wonderful teachers. This group were really fun to be with and it was a refreshing change to work with slightly older pupils. There were lots of comments about the amount of poo around and a couple of the girls were really extremely unimpressed at the prospect of having to get near the cows to milk them - but came out grinning from ear to ear having thoroughly enjoyed the experience. This is the sort of thing that makes my job so rewarding and fun.
Helen is the London Schools Farmers' Market Co-ordinator at the Soil Association, and works on a project called Farm Academy, which is all about connecting pupils to where their food comes from via residential visits to organic farms and the setting up and running of school farmers' markets. It is now working with five schools. She'll be reporting on how the schools are getting on preparing to run their first markets.