2 July 2021
By Tom Collins
The students from Carriganima National School in County Cork are announced as the GIY and innocent drinks ‘Big Grow’ Champions 2021.
50,000 school children from schools nationwide took part in the 10th annual Big Grow initiative, which enabled the primary school children to learn how to grow their own food in their classrooms.
The teacher of the winning class, Lavinia Sheahan says, “Our two-teacher school took to this challenge with gusto. They all absolutely loved the experience of growing their own food and learned a lot through the process. They were excellent at growing their seeds from scratch and transplanting everything outside to the raised beds successfully. We also used a lot of recycled materials for our grow cartons. It hasn’t been the easiest year for children at school so this outdoor activity offered us a wonderful slice of normality and learning in a fun way together.”
The Big Grow began 10 years ago as innocent and GIY joined forces to get kids growing their own veg at school and since then they have helped over a quarter of a million pupils to get free growing resources. Schools all over the country took part at school and remotely in The Big Grow 2021 as they enjoyed having food growing kits delivered to their schools during the spring.
Each school that took part in The Big Grow was encouraged to share their growing experiences online to be in with a chance of being crowned The Big Grow Champs and be awarded a school garden revamp to the value of €1,000. The runners up in the 2021 competition were Scoil Mhuire Junior in Dublin 15 and Killina National School in County Kildare.
Presenting the award to the class, founder of GIY Michael Kelly said, “All of the pupils from Carriganima National School showcased fantastic engagement with the big Grow from the very beginning. We loved their enthusiasm for growing their own food and their future plans to continue to expand their school garden to grow even more food into the future. They were really bitten by the food growing bug!”
Brand manager for innocent drinks Ireland, Rochana Shrestha added, “We’ve been so impressed by all the schools who got stuck in this year, getting kids excited about fruit and veg is what the Big Grow is all about. Everyone at Carriganima National School really went for it, and made a huge effort to keep us updated on their growing progress. It’s fantastic that they’re using their winnings to do even more growing in the future.
We’ve made it our mission to reach over half the primary school kids in Ireland with this healthy-eating project, it’s really easy to enter and we’re looking forward to seeing more budding gardeners when it kicks off again next year.”
To date, since its inception in 2009, the GIY and innocent drinks campaign has facilitated food growing at school for children across the country through the supply of seeds, grow pots, compost and expert growing advice and tips. The children not only learn the science of growing, but they also experience the joy of growing and eating their own food. GIY calls this “Food Empathy” a deeper connection with food, which is proven to lead to a healthier life long-term.
Although the school winners have now been picked, the growing season never ends. There’s still lots of tasty stuff that can easily be grown at home, and innocent are encouraging people to roll their sleeves up and do just that. Share how you’re getting on with your home grown food (tag @innocentireland and @giyireland) and you could land yourself a year’s worth of smoothies, fresh fruit and veg and some nice stuff for the garden.