Youngsters learn from plot to plate

In a bid to teach children more about where their food comes from, London Assembly Member and Chair of the Environment Committee, Darren Johnson visited local school children at their start-up plot on Merton Council’s Western Road Allotment site on Wednesday 9 January.

Pupils from Willington Independent Preparatory School Wimbledon, who are interested in nature, will use the plot for after-school activities such as planting and harvesting fruit and vegetables. As the children’s enthusiasm grows, the aim is for teachers to incorporate some of what is learnt in to the National Curriculum such as recycling, sustainability, the study of plants and insects, and where food comes from.

The plot will give the children the opportunity to get involved with growing their own food and help them to appreciate the combined benefits of healthy eating and outdoor activity. Officers from the Lavender Fields Safer Neighbourhood Team were also at the allotment to advise the children on how to secure equipment against vandalism and petty theft.

Merton Council has 18 allotment sites with a total of 1,364 plots. Allotment sites range from as few as four plots to some of the larger ones containing 274. Prices vary with plots costing £40 for the year, but there are also concessionary discounts for the over 60s. There are currently 108 plots available across the borough, with approximately 400 people waiting for their chosen site. Due to popularity waiting lists can last as long as a year for the more sought after allotment sites. Details of plot history are held on an IT system that enables an efficient response to enquires, lettings and correspondence. At Western Road Allotment there are currently ten plots available.

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Traffic Management, Councillor Tariq Ahmad said: ‘I am very pleased that Willington School has taken on an allotment site, and hopefully this will encourage other schools to do the same. Children can learn the benefits of eating fresh produce, taking responsibility for their own food and living a healthy, sustainable life.’

For further information on Merton’s allotment sites please visit http://www.merton.gov.uk/allotments or contact London Borough of Merton Leisure Services leisure@merton.gov.uk Details on other local sustainability initiatives can be found on Sustainable Merton at http://www.sustainablemerton.wordpress.com

ENDS

Notes to Editor

Pictures taken at the allotment site of school children: right to left Virkesh Patel, Hugh Curthoys and Siddharth Swaroop. John Barker and London Ass