New Forest Food Challenge Helps 12 schools
Published on 2016-05-08 by Gill Hickman
The local Food Challenge has worked with 12 local schools and pre-schools so far this term. From tots to everyone is planting rocket, potatoes, onions, peas, beans, sweetcorn, pumpkins, courgettes and squashes.
Milford school has part of its garden sectioned off for ‘3 sisters’ planting. This is an ancient style of companion planting created by the Native Americans. Three specific plants, beans, sweetcorn and squashes, are sown together in an arrangement, whereby each plant will offer its own benefits. Sweetcorn gives a natural pole for the bean and provides carbohydrate Beans are high in protein, stabilise the corn plants and fix nitrogen in the soil. Squashes act as a living mulch, shading the weeds and preventing water evaporation from the soil. They provide vitamins, minerals and maybe even oil from the seeds. This tradition was kept alive with folklore and stories that were passed down, all in times before words like ‘companion planting’ and ‘permaculture’ were even invented! We can only assume the benefits were just witnessed, explained in some way and then copied. Photos show some of the Food Challenge's successes in schools. Many 'Sussed' schools were given potato packs and all were offered help with sowing peas, beans or sunflowers in pots.