How to get parents planting in the city - Carshalton Boys Sports College, Surrey

Resource: Case study Age: Secondary

Carshalton Boys Sports College is a flagship 11-19 comprehensive school with 1,200 students on its roll. Situated in Carshalton, Surrey, the college says it “benefits from having a very vibrant and diverse school community”.

The college is particularly keen to involve parents, both in their child’s learning and college activities. Parents are already given regular opportunities to contribute towards the shaping of school policy via the online bulletin ‘CBSC weekly’, but this month Carshalton Boys Sports College has come up with a unique way of encouraging parents to grow their own food.

What they've achieved

Carshalton College staCarshalton Boys Schoolrted running a car boot sale at the start of the 2009/2010 academic year, and has already hosted three car boot sales. On Saturday 22 May, at the third car boot sale, the college's Food for Life Partnership lead Ben Howard decided to offer parents all the equipment necessary for planting a salad and herb window box completely free. All the parents had to do was to promise to water the edible window box every day and to enjoy the fresh, home-grown produce at the end. For that, they were given a window box, compost and seeds.

There were 50 boxes up for grabs, all of which contained a Saladini mix of lettuce, endives and chicory courtesy of Garden Organic, and rocket, coriander and basil. Ben helped the parents to make up the boxes on site, and after just a couple of hours all of the boxes had gone.

What they say

Ben, who is a citizenship teacher and the Food for Life Partnership lead at the college, says, Carshalton Boys School

“I read in some Food for life literature about a school doing something similar. I also had the chance to plant one as part of a training day run by Diane Fischer (Garden Organic). These edible window boxes are really easy to grow, require minimal input but have been a real success - I get a salad out of it every week now. I thought it would be a good way to reach out to the wider community, and hopefully success with the window box will inspire some to be more adventurous and have a go at growing other foods.”

The difference it makes

“Part of the Food for Life remit is to reach out to the local community, and I think these window boxes are easy to set up and look after,” Ben continues. “Parents need to be involved as they are the ones who make food decisions within households and are therefore key to improving children’s diets.”


The Food for Life Partnership is a network of schools and communities across England committed to transforming food culture. Together we are revolutionising school meals, reconnecting children and young people with where their food comes from, and inspiring families to grow and cook food.

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