An almighty platoon of young Mayo farmers is homeward bound to learn about the importance of eating their five-a-day. Primary schools in Mayo are cultivating five crops of Irish fruit and vegetables in the classroom for the National Incredible Edibles growing challenge, developed by Agri Aware.
Last week every participating pupil received a free recipe and nutritional booklet entitled Lettuce Eat, compiled by leading nutritionist, Paula Mee and Agri Aware. The resource aims to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among children in the household using easy recipes and fun activities.
Minister of State for Food and Horticulture Trevor Sargent said: “It’s fantastic to think that 94 primary schools in Mayo are now growing crops of Irish fruit and vegetables. It’s important to build on this learning and link in the nutritional benefits that a fresh five-a-day has on our health and wellbeing. The finances of the country would also benefit from more people eating Irish grown fruit and vegetables. Already obesity is costing the State over €4 billion a year.”
Every primary school in Mayo received an Incredible Edibles growing kit in February containing seeds, trays, compost, and an instructional DVD. Schools must grow potatoes, scallions, lettuces, cabbages, and strawberries and document their farming adventure in a classroom growing diary scrapbook. Scrapbooks are to be returned to Agri Aware at harvest time in June and 10 shortlisted schools will share more than €10,000 in educational funds.
Agri Aware chairman Mairead Lavery commented: “The huge uptake of this challenge among primary schools in Mayo proves there’s an appetite to educate children on where their food comes from. Pupils will have the opportunity to take home what they’ve learned about fresh produce in the classroom and impart their newfound knowledge among family and friends. This will help to communicate the valuable work of Irish farmers to thousands of Mayo’s consumers.”
Approximately 20 of Ireland’s leading fruit and vegetable organisations and distributers are supporting the drive to promote the fresh produce readily available at consumers’ convenience.