Teach them young

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on growing food as a subject alongside home economics in schools.

One thing the Covid-19 pandemic has definitely taught us is that humanity has to get its act together in order to survive on this planet. No more climate change deniers being elected into power, no more control, funding and lobbying by oil companies of our politicians and governments both local and national. The future may look bleak at the moment but this pandemic will pass like many before it, but we need to radically change our economic policies. More emphasis should be placed on a work-life balance while food and health should be at the top of any governments priority list for its citizens, no matter what the political ideology. 

Having setup You Can Cook and You Can Grow in 2007, we have seen massive changes in the communities we delivered our projects. Not many are aware that we were the first social enterprise/community organisation to setup an Organic Training Garden on school grounds in Scotland in 2015. This project is still going strong with community support and has not folded since the original funding ceased. We worked tirelessly with the school and with support from school staff and volunteers helped develop an educational programme that was linking with the school curriculum, an achievement that has far exceeded our expectations. Pupils from Nursery up to Primary 7 were given hands-on training on how to grow and also cook from scratch with raw ingredients. We acquired four allotments plots on a 5-year lease from Traquair House Charitable Trust for local residents to grow their own food. We provided all the growing materials, seeds, training and support throughout the process, while making sure allottees could cope with growing food for the first time. The project has managed to light the imagination of local residents who felt motivated and inspired to grow their own food locally. This was the first of many steps the organisation took in fulfilling its long term sustainability plan for the Scottish Borders. 

We were the first social enterprise in Scotland to launch a book for growers, no matter what your knowledge or expertise is about wanting to grow your own food. The time is ripe for joined up thinking in our schools with help from local councils to make pupils aware of the consequences of climate change and impart skills and training in cooking and growing so that future generations will be able to be self-sufficient and not have to completely rely on food imports which currently make up over 50%. 

Let’s face it, we all need good, nutritious food and it does not matter whether we are rich or poor, SNP, Tory, Labour, Greens, or Lib-Dems. This is one policy we can hopefully all agree on. Make Food Poverty History.

Wishing all readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New year 2021! Stay safe and let’s grow, shop and eat local!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 11th December 2020.