Westminster City Council has opened a new ‘edible garden’ at Paddington Recreation Ground to help educate children about the benefits of healthy eating.
Organisations, such as Sayers Croft and The Food Explorers, will work in partnership with local schools to use the new garden to engage young children in food education.
The incentive aims at encouraging children to eat more fruit and vegetables. Recent research has found that in Westminster 21.6% of 4 to 5 year olds are overweight or obese. This figure rises to nearly 40% by the age of 10 to 11.
The programme will also raise awareness about the origin and the process of growing food, on top of teaching techniques for cooking and food preparation.
Central London has one of the highest concentrations of fast food outlets in the country, varying from 107 to 210 fast food establishments per 100,000 residents.
The program organisers cite research showing that children who participate in the planting and growing of food are more likely to make nutritional choices throughout their life.
Westminster City Council’s Cabinet Member for Sport and Leisure, David Harvey, joined Ark Atwood Primary School to launch the new garden.
He said: “We want youngsters to know about the food they eat and make healthier choices. Research shows that children who plant and grow vegetables are more likely to go onto a lifetime of healthy eating.”
“This garden helps young people to understand that food doesn’t just come from a plastic packet in the supermarket,” he added. “By making food education classes fun and engaging we can make a really positive difference.”
The garden at Paddington Recreation Ground is part of a wider Forest Schools Programme. The incentive aims at providing inner-city children, with limited access to school playing fields, a chance to experience nature.