Primary school pupils put on their ‘Veg-heads’ for Sow & Grow

Pictured are Aarron Dillon (11), Alan Morta (7), Ephraim Dean (8), Michael Brady (10) and Daniel Iakhoa (12) from Our Lady of Good Counsel Boy's National School in Drimnagh. The Innocent Drinks and GIY Sow and Grow project enables school children across Ireland to grow their own food in the classroom this spring using free growing packs which will be distributed by GIY and innocent, see sowandgrow.innocentdrinks.com  Photocall Ireland
Pictured are Aarron Dillon (11), Alan Morta (7), Ephraim Dean (8), Michael Brady (10) and Daniel Iakhoa (12) from Our Lady of Good Counsel Boy's National School in Drimnagh. The Innocent Drinks and GIY Sow and Grow project enables school children across Ireland to grow their own food in the classroom this spring using free growing packs which will be distributed by GIY and innocent, see sowandgrow.innocentdrinks.com  Photocall Ireland

GIY and Innocent Drinks have launched the fifth annual ‘Sow & Grow’ project, which aims to get primary school children to get their hands dirty while sowing and growing their own vegetables.

This year’s ‘Sow & Grow’ Ambassador and RTE’s ‘Operation Transformation’ nutritionist, Aoife Hearne was on hand to launch the project with pupils of Our Lady of Good Counsel Boy’s National School in Drimnagh.

This year’s ‘Sow & Grow’ initiative will facilitate 30,000 primary school children from all across Ireland in their learning to grow cress, peas and spinach. Over the last four years innocent and GIY have facilitated more than 80,000 school children to have their first growing experience in classrooms countrywide.

From March 1st, teachers and youth-group leaders can apply for one of the free Sow & Grow packs on sowandgrow.innocentdrinks.com for their classroom or group. Each pack includes 30 growing pots, seeds, soil, lesson plans and growing guides. Studies show that children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fruit and veg, show higher levels of knowledge around nutrition and are more likely to continue healthy eating habits throughout their lives.

Registered schools are encouraged to track their growing progress throughout the term by writing about or uploading photos of their vegetables to the Sow & Grow website. For every school that does this, they will receive a Sow & Grow certificate as well the chance to win a class trip to Bloom Festival 2016 and Dublin Zoo, €500 of gardening equipment.

Winners of last year’s Sow & Grow project, Ms Zoe Quinn’s 2nd Class boys of Our Lady of Good Counsel National School, Drimnagh, are well-practiced planters by now. According to their principal Mr Aidan Knight the ‘growing’ spirit is on an upward trend at the school.

He said: “We are very proud of the 25 boys from Ms Quinn’s class last year who were announced the 2015 Sow & Grow winners. Thanks to them we now have a wonderful school garden which every class in the school can make use of on a weekly basis.”

Commenting on her passion for the project Aoife Hearne said: “I’m a big believer in growing your own food. As a mum and a nutritionist, I believe that giving children the knowledge of where their food comes from as well as showing them how to grow it themselves, are two of the greatest gifts we can offer. Healthy eating for me is about knowing which foods are actually healthy and secondly having access to those healthy foods. The innocent and GIY Sow & Grow programme fulfills both of those criteria and it is projects like this which will help us to battle Ireland’s continually increasing obesity statistics.”

Innocent Drinks’ Brand Manager Bláthnaid McKenna says: “For the first time since its inception, the Sow & Grow project has increased the amount of packs provided to schools across the country so we will facilitate an additional 10,000 children in growing their own vegetables this year.

“We’re big fans of fruit and veg at innocent. Our little drinks are something that not only taste good but also do good, which is why Sow & Grow is a project that we are exceptionally proud of. The success of the initiative in Ireland has been such that now it is being rolled out in UK schools this year too. As a result of this, Sow & Grow will now get 130,000 school kids across the UK and Ireland growing their own veg this spring. Just magic.”

Speaking at the ‘Sow & Grow’ launch Michael Kelly founder of GIY said: “This is the fifth year that we have partnered with innocent Drinks to bring Sow & Grow to Irish classrooms and each year the demand from schools and youth groups across the country increases.

“I met children today who have not only grown their own potatoes at school but they have cooked them and eaten them, their delight at this simple but hugely important connection between where their food comes from and how it ends up on their dinner plate is what Sow & Grow is all about.

“In total, 22% of Irish 5-12 year olds are overweight or obese and we believe a huge part of the problem is that children have lost a vital connection with food and how it works. So even though these are simple food growing experiences, they are hugely important in restoring that connection and helping children to understand how food works.”

Visit sowandgrow.innocentdrinks.com for further information and to register for an innocent & GIY ‘Sow & Grow’ pack.