More green time for pupils in London

7 May 2024 3 minute read

an urban playground with wooden planters
Part of Robert Browning's Healthy Playground

Students from Robert Browning (one of our first Healthy Playground projects in London) took to Borough Market last autumn to sell their school-grown veggies for charity!

Borough Market is a famous fresh produce and food market located next to London Bridge. It attracts over 25 million visits a year with its amazing selection of vegetables, truffles, cheeses, and so much more.

So it was a big deal when pupils of Robert Browning school joined other schools from the area to sell their wares to the patrons of London Borough Market, all in the name of raising money for School Food Matters.

A table with a sign that reads 'Robert Browning' , with homegrown vegetables on it and four pupils smiling behind it.
The pupils from Robert Browning selling their wares at Borough Market

People kept commenting on the energy and the enthusiasm of the kids, and the fact that it was all to raise money for charity. It was really lovely to hear.

Shanaz, Learning Mentor at Robert Browning

Sowing the seeds

Robert Browning is part of our Healthy Playgrounds programme, where we reimagine urban playgrounds, turning them into fun and educational green spaces. We worked closely with student ambassadors (presentative pupils for each yew group) to help co-design their new green space. They showed us how the playground was currently being used, and what types of activities and lessons could happen in their new garden space.

Once the design was agreed student ambassadors lead a school wide pupil vote on which fruit veg and herbs to grow in the community food garden at the front of the school. Mint, raspberries, peas and rainbow carrots being the star choices!

Staff also joined in a nature focus curriculum session and discussed how to incorporate gardening and outdoor learning into their termly planning.

Since then trees and plants have sprung to life and so has the enthusiasm for gardening!

More green time

We caught up with Shanaz, a Learning Mentor at the school, who runs the gardening club and is on a mission to get the kids having less screen time, and more green time.

“The Borough Market project was a great example of kids getting actively involved and excited in a gardening project. The kids that did the session with Megan [from Trees for Cities] were so enthusiastic about selling the products they grew in the garden – they wouldn’t rest until they’d sold everything!”

passion flower climbing up a fence with buildings in the background
Passionfruit flower on the rooftop of the school

A greener place to play

As part of the Healthy Playground design at Robert Browning, three new trees were planted to add shade, since London temperatures can soar to 40C in heatwaves. Tarmac also adds to rising temperatures by absorbing heat from the sun, so long stretches of tarmac were removed to create growing space. Although next to a busy playground, the design supports a slower pace, with seats, sensory planting and a large wildlife mural, featuring flowers that students had spotted in nearby Burgess Park. The community and student food growing beds were interspersed with a rich variety of perennial plants, adding pollinator flowers, colour and texture throughout the year.

Robert Browning have seen great levels of engagement with the kids brought out here for classes, which has all culminated in selling the veggies and herbs they’ve grown at Borough Market.

Collectively all the schools raised £600 for School Food Matters, and who knows - the experience may have ignited the spark for future food growers of the future!

Talking Trees

It's our 30th year anniversary, and we're celebrating by sharing some of the voices and stories of the people who have helped to plant and protect all of those trees, as well as highlighting our work in schools like Robert Browning.

To stay up to date with events and celebrations, sign up to our newsletter Tree Times.

Donate to Trees for Cities and together we can help cities grow into greener, cleaner and healthier places for people to live and work worldwide.