Welcome to the Secret Garden South of Bobber's Mill Bridge in Nottingham

Welcome to Windmill Community Gardens, home of the Climate Friendly Gardeners Project.

We are a group of local people, who are nurturing a wonderful community garden in the heart of the city. You'll find us just South of Bobbersmill Bridge, on the allotment site at the South end of Ascot Road. The Gardens are a great place where anyone can come to find out more about growing their own food in a changing climate. We cater for all abilities and welcome any nationality or age group.

Why not come and join us?

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Where does your food come from?

This morning we hosted a Year 2 class from Mellers Primary School to help them explore where food comes from. We're very interested in the idea of food miles here - that's how far any food has to come from to reach us. We're also fascinated about where different crops originated - many things we think of as "typical" allotment crops actually began as natives of other countries. And lastly, we are constantly looking for recipes from different countries to see how they would use our crops in their own cooking, sometimes getting ideas from visitors and also from our own research. In short - Windmill is the place to come to if you want to find out more about where your food is from.

Where in the world did carrots come from?

The pupils have been studying different countries, and they already had a good idea about which continent is which, so they were a great bunch to work with. Jade and Tracey have been working on a new resource for this topic, so we were able to help the group to use their knowledge to find out where different fruits and vegetables originated. Some were quite a surprise - for example our garden strawberries are not native, they are in fact from America! Our native strawberries are the small, wild ones. Carrots are also not native, and were first cultivated in Iran and Afganistan, as a purple root - the orange carrot is a Dutch innovation, bred as a homage to their royal family - the House of Orange. We also found out that rhubarb was first cultivated in China. The children really enjoyed going around the gardens looking for clue cards that showed them where different crops originated, which also helped them to learn what different plants look like as they grow.

Carrots came from the Middle East!

Looking for clues to where onions originated
(Middle East too!)

One part of the session was devoted to finding out where our food comes from now, which is very easy thanks to supermarket labelling these days. The children looked at a variety of crops and found that quite a few things were from unexpected places. We discovered onions from Mexico and New Zealand, and carrots from Israel amongst others. The findings allowed us to use a map and some string to work out which crop had come the furthest to get here.

Finding out where our food is grown today

We then had a chance to eat something which had only travelled a few metres, as all the pupils had a taste of freshly picked lettuce from the allotment. Nearly everyone enjoyed it, which was really nice to see!

Tasting freshly-picked, Zero Food Miles Lettuce

We ended with a Native American story which explains how sweetcorn, beans and pumpkin can help each other if they are planted together. These were the staple foods of many Native Americans, so we grow them together in our "3 Sisters" bed. Another surprise from the research for the story is that French beans are actually American!

Telling the story of the 3 Sisters

The group had a great time, and we really enjoyed working with them - they were a lovely bunch. We are looking forward to seeing their school-mates from Year 1 soon, if the weather allows.

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