Garden Pen Pals

24 July 2023 4 minute read

Here at Trees for Cities we want to make sure all children growing up in busy city life have access to greener and healthier places to be and play in.

Trees for Schools is a Trees for Cities programme, which aims to transform urban school grounds into leafy green oases for both the children of today and for future generations. Our School programmes support teachers and pupils by encouraging them to take their lessons outside the classroom and connect with nature by tree planting, food growing and nurturing new green spaces in their school playgrounds.

Our team works across many cities in the UK; Cardiff, Bradford, London and Glasgow to name a few. Some of these cities are home to our Edible Playground schools, which are vibrant teaching gardens that offer a lively, engaging, multi-sensory way to teach children about growing and eating healthy food.


Trees for Cities also work with talented partners across the globe. We've been working with our friends in Kenya who lead the Community Sustainable Development Empowerment Programme (COSDEP). They create incredible Organic Gardening programmes for schools, which are designed to benefit the entire school community by educating pupils about growing and eating healthy fruits and vegetables. The schools are able to improve students’ diets as well as sustain an income from the sale of surplus produce. It's also thanks to funding from the Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust that we are able to help deliver this programme in Kenya!

We thought it would be a great opportunity for some of the pupils involved in these projects to share their passion for growing together. White Cottage Primary, Nairobi, Kenya and Our Lady and St Georges Primary, Walthamstow, London both have school gardens and are full of pupils developing a passion for food growing. We asked both schools to take part in our pen pal project.

The pupils at White Cottage in Kenya.

White Cottage Primary has used their organic garden and interactive teaching space since the project began in 2021. COSDEP has supported pupils by training them in agroforestry. Now pupils’ attitudes towards food growing and healthy eating is changing for the better!

Our Lady and St Georges' Edible Playground

Our Lady and St Georges have had their Edible playground since 2021 and not only have both the teachers and children spent valuable time outdoors, they have also enjoyed growing fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers for each season, studied food growing from other cultures and even sold their own produce at their school market.

We managed to deliver the letters to White Cottage pupils and the students have addressed the pupils directly in their replies. They were excited about the exercise and the prospect of making new friends!

Stanley Kinyanjuim, Program Director COSDEP Kenya

what did the pupils learn from each other?

Despite the differences in growing conditions, techniques and climates, there were many similarities in the pupils' experiences. The pupils shared some of the similar fruits and vegetables they have been growing such as carrots, onions, strawberries and herbs. In Kenya, the students also listed some of the other fruit and vegetable they have been growing, including papayas, pawpaw and mangoes.

In both schools, pupils have also faced similar struggles when growing food and protecting their crops from predators and bugs. Their letters also highlighted the importance of watering and protecting the fruit and vegetables from the heat.

However, perhaps the biggest similarity between the pupils was the fact that they have all loved food growing and agriculture! Many children spoke about their love of being outdoors, caring for their plants, finding insects and eating healthily.

It's heart-warming to see how the power of food growing and tree planting can connect children from across the globe! We hope to see this friendship continue to flourish amongst these two schools just like their gardens.

Check out a few of the letters below. 👇

It was lovely to hear what the children had to say. How wonderful to be involved!

Anne Kagoya, Lead teacher at OLSG

A letter from a White Cottage Primary student.
A letter from a White Cottage Primary student.
A letter from a White Cottage Primary student.
A letter from a OLSG student.
A letter from a OLSG student.

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