School pupils bring their growing skills to Surrey Street Market

Anyone who shops down Surrey Street knows that the stall holders there all know their onions.

Market traders: the school Know Your Onions stall will be open for business from noon on Thursday

But wander down the street market this Thursday, and you’re likely to encounter one special stall where the rather youthful-looking stall-holders will be keener than ever to demonstrate how they have grown their own fruit and veg and understand the importance of good, fresh produce to a healthy lifestyle.

Pupils from The Link Secondary School in Beddington will be selling rhubarb, potatoes, spring onions, lettuce, herbs and more, with all proceeds being reinvested into their schools.

Part of a programme called Know Your Onions, the scheme is run by the charity School Food Matters, and gives pupils an opportunity to experience cooking and growing at school, with the help of expert gardeners and food teachers, to stimulate an interest in food and a love of the natural world.

School Food Matters teaches children about food through a range of engaging school projects and works to improve children’s access to healthy, sustainable meals during their time at school.

The free programme for schools, now in its seventh year, also sees students visiting a nearby market garden to observe how the professionals do it.

Home grown business: from seed to the plate, the School Food Matters programme teaches an understanding of produce

More than 100 pupils from seven other boroughs also taking part in the programme will be selling their produce at local markets around London on the same day.

“We are delighted to have 19 secondary schools taking part in Know Your Onions this year, with whom we’ve run almost 100 cooking workshops, gardening sessions and farm visits,” said Dela Foster from School Food Matters.

“While there are quite a few opportunities at primary school to grow fruit and veg, these often dwindle at secondary school, leaving pupils with the impression that gardening is just for little children.

“However, with Know Your Onions, we build on their understanding, and can start to develop a real knowledge of plants, soil and vegetable produce. It is a delight to see them take ownership of their gardens and start to connect the vegetables they cook with with the ones they grow.”

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1 Response to School pupils bring their growing skills to Surrey Street Market

  1. Lewis White says:

    If only all children could be introduced to growing vegetables from seed or tuber !
    A grounding for life– working with hands as well as brain- a recipe for well-balanced children, considerable joy and satisfaction at growing you own food, and hopefully, a lifelong awareness of the importance of respecting ourselves, animals and the Planet.

    If only– fresh veg from local areas- not wrapped in plastic.

    In our local area, ordinary people became vegetable-growing smallholders on the Wallington Estate – set up on rather poor land by Surrey County Council in the early 2oth Century. Some of these became nurseries growing flowers and plants, as well as veg and raising pigs.

    Some of thes eveg used to be bought by stall holders and sold at Surrey Street.
    I emeber assive cos lettuce, marrows and runner beans, as alte as the 1980’s , maybe 90’s.

    Very sadly, with the brave exception of the Sutton Community farm, I don’t think there are any professional veg. growers left on the Wallington estate, but there are still some fantastic plant grower nurseries, mainy on Woodmansterne Lane, but maybe in other corners.

    Equally sad, there are no stalls left on Surrey Street selling the traditional full range fresh seasonal English produce like cos and round lettuce, beetroot, runner beans , broad beans, french beans, carrots, spinach, sprouts, new Jesey and English spuds … etc. Oooh–and Onions !

    The last man specialising in selling these is sadly, no longer there.

    There are many who sell English sweet corn, Strawberries and raspberries, speds in season, tomatoes and radishes, and a few others.

    It beats me, but almost everyone — except for a few stalls selling a massive range of mainly exotic veg and fruit– sells the same things like little oranges, avocados, red peppers, and a restricted range of apples. Apparently, it is what the British public of today want.

    I don’t blame the traders–I blame the other British public, who never set foot in a market, who like their fruit and veg in plastic wrappers.

    Nothing beats a bargain down Surrey Street, and I always come back laden with fruity and veggie goodies. Thank goodness the council have moved the bus stops back “this side of the flyover” or I would not make it back to Coulsdon

    As I walk up the half-empty street once thronged with public, traders and barrers, I sing out in a very quiet voice those wonderful street calls of the past….
    ‘Alf a pound of ripe termaters, ‘alf a pound of SALAD termaters! Mind your backs ! Lovely ripe cherries, Kentish cherries ! (ok, I might have made that last bit up)

    and remember the signs on fruit stalls — “Don’t squeeze me til I’m yours! Canary tomatoes–Rock ‘ard and sweet as a nut ! (What did happen to those wonderful Canary Island tomatoes? – Sold to Germany now, probably)

    The very good news is that there are new traders coming as well as the older ones.
    Life goes on. Let’s hope that things get better . Been here since a Royal Charter in 13 something. So says a street sign. Croydon Council ought to be dishing out special medals to all stallworkers at some suitable time to commemorate their own part in the Saga of Surrey Street. Longer running than even East Enders.

    Yes, well done , Know your Onions and all the veg-growing school children.
    I hope they inspire others to plant and raise food.

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