Schools across Nottinghamshire are being encouraged to get growing and supply fresh vegetables for their lunchtime meals.
The call arises from the groundbreaking success of green-fingered pupils at Tuxford Academy who are not only supplying their crops to the school kitchen but also getting paid for it.
Helen Fifoot, catering team manager at Nottingham County Council, 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 and theey were reimbursed with gardening vouchers from the council. Now the pupils have big plans to step up production.
Helen added: “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.
“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 the average school dinner across Nottinghamshire.