4th July 2019
Over the last 3 months Collective Fund GROW has gone from being in the imagination of founder George Lamb to a successful reality. A life skills education programme focused on children engaging with nature, nutrition, sustainable food sources, mindfulness and wellbeing has firmly rooted itself into its new home, at The Totteridge Academy in North London.
During its short time since innovation, 50 children per week have had access to a wide variety of extra-curricular lessons and activities. A culture of exciting workshops, demonstrations and practical lessons has already been established in the school. These range from yoga, nutrition guidance and the debunking of fad diets, to tending to the school’s resident bees.
Prism Relationship Manager Grace recently visited GROW and got the chance to sit in on a lesson taking place on mushroom growing. The class of thirty year seven students listened to Darren, an expert practitioner, explain the ancient history of the well-known fungi. The lesson, informative for both students and staff, then involved a practical where the children created their own habitats for mushrooms to naturally grow. Other examples of mycelium (the vegetative part of fungus) were passed round the class, with one display showing how the mushrooms had started to break down and consume the cardboard they were housed on.
The inquisitive reactions of the children are indicative of how well established project GROW has already become at the school. With 6 acres of The Totteridge Academy’s land now set to be transformed into a space that contains a multipurpose classroom and community hub, plus a variety of animals to be raised on the farm, the project aims to be inclusive for both students and the wider community.
With long-term aims focused on nationwide expansion of the upcoming programmes, Grace sat down with founder George Lamb to find out more about the initial inspiration for GROW:
How would you summarise GROW?
It is about creating something that the students want to take ownership of. We can be the facilitators for what they want to explore, whether that be their own wellbeing or looking at how they can positively look after the planet in their day-to-day lives.
What was the initial inspiration for the project?
The doom and gloom of the news and the way my generation are already locked into an expectation of what their life should be, made me feel like something needed to be done. By investing our time in the next generation, we can be the facilitators to help them to make real change.
How have the students and the school responded?
In all honesty, the reaction couldn’t have been better! We have had the best possible start with 50 children on project GROW in a relatively short amount of time. From the new term in September that number jumps to 250 students…so who knows what that could be a year from now!
Most rewarding aspect?
Interacting with the kids and seeing the responsibility they are taking, both for the project and for spreading our message to their parents, friends and families has been amazing. Walking through the school having students come up to me and asking how they can join the project shows there is a need. Kids have gone home and planted seeds and brought dates and radishes in to show us what they’ve grown! We are transforming relationships between us, food and the land already!
More on Grow:
More on Prism’s Collective Fund model: