Do you know what a FoodProud School is? Well the students of Gurraneasig National School in Kilbrittain do because they coined the phrase! While little free libraries have been popping up all over the country, the little West Cork School has taken the idea a step further with their novel creation of a Food Proud Press, an innovative food sharing initiative to tackle food waste. The unique idea conceived and developed by pupils of Gurraneasig National School has been funded by Cork County Council through Local Agenda 21 funding.
Growing organic fruit and vegetables in their school garden for many years, the children this year decided they wanted to make the most of their bountiful garden, even throughout the long school summer holidays, and to share their summer garden surplus. They came up with a vision to build an outdoor cupboard to allow them to do just that.
Parents and local families are invited to visit the cupboard and take home fresh produce and/or leave their own surplus. The Food Proud press has already hosted, along with the schools veggies, jars of jams and chutneys, local honey, free range eggs and herbs and much more – all free for the sharing.
School principal, Eoin Fitzpatrick commented “Gurraneasig NS aims to be a sustainable and environmentally friendly school. The Food Proud project complements our Green school, Active school and Amber Flag (mental wellbeing) goals and provides hands on active learning and development of critical thinking and problem solving skills and the colourful Food Proud Press located at the school entrance represents the heart of this project circulating a steady stream of home produced food, fair trade and goodwill.”
The Food Proud School project has also seen the school garden grow, with the pupils planting a forest garden with fruit trees and bushes, creating wildlife corridors and making recycled bird feeders. The project has come together through the collaboration of students, school staff, the parents association and parents and families who have been enthusiastic about the children’s vision for their school garden and the Food Proud Press. The school community has come together for weekly meitheals (work parties) in the garden, sharing ideas and skills, food and laughter, as well as the work load.
One young school gardener, Charlotte Cochrane said “I felt so excited and happy that we were bringing more insects and creatures to the school” while her classmate Arún Geluk added “I like the food proud press because food doesn’t go to waste. And you don’t even always have to put food in it. It could be clothes or books or anything”.
The school also boasts an outdoor classroom and sensory garden used by students and their teachers regularly, and a series of parent-led experiential workshops at the end of each school year where children learn about boat building, yoga, herbalism, textile recycling, food preservation, animal husbandry, small engines, carpentry and wildlife rescue skills and other really useful life skills.
For more information on this unique school visit www.gurraneasigns.com or find on facebook and twitter.