‘This is real climate action’


FOOD AND THE FUTURE Juniors and Seniors Infants and First Class pupils from Murrisk NS planting a Cox’s orange pippin tree with the help of Terri Metcalfe at the launch. Pic: Frank Dolan

Food Forest Education Programme launches in Murrisk and Castlebar schools

McKinley Neal

As a parent, and as an individual concerned about the climate crisis, especially the potential impact on our coastal communities here in the west of Ireland, I was delighted to see the Food Forest Education Programme launched last week by the Edible Landscape Project. I am an ELP board member, and Michelle Granaghan of Westport is the lead curriculum designer of the programme. Michelle used her own experience of trying her best to eat Irish grown food as priority, as well as growing her own food, when putting the programme together.
“We know that so much of our current lifestyle is just not sustainable, and it can be over-whelming,” she told me. “Thinking about our food choices is great place to start. The focus of the Food Forest Education Programme is to learn about where our food comes from and see how connected each of the processes of life are to each other.
“We need healthy soil and water to feed the plants and insects to visit to pollinate. I hope that we can have a societal change in attitude to thinking about our food choices.”
The Food Forest Education programme was created by teachers for teachers, to explain in a hands-on way to young students the link between food choices and climate change.
Last week, Murrisk NS and Gaelscoil Raifteirí in Castlebar were the first primary schools to introduce the curriculum and design their 2m x 2m food forest area. In the near future, Mulranny NS as well as Holy Trinity, Scoil Phadraig, the Gaelscoil and Lankill NS in Westport, will all introduce the Food Forest Education Programme. Sponsorships for the plants required are welcome. To get involved, email info@ediblelandscapeproject.ie.

Commenting on the launch day last Friday, Terri Metcalfe, a parent at Murrisk NS and volunteer with the Edible Landscape Project, said: “It was so uplifting to see the children get involved with the planting – from digging to hammering, measuring, and even to getting to know all the little creatures we came across, every child wanted to have a go at everything! It was absolutely fantastic to see the joy on their faces at being outdoors and getting mucky.
“From a personal perspective, I believe it’s so important to pass these skills on, not just from a practical sense of being able to grow your own food, but because it is fun and rewarding. That, to me, is the key to developing our children’s sense of connection nature and a desire to look after it.”
Caithriona McCarthy, Programme Director of the Edible Landscape Project, said she is thrilled with the reaction the the programme. “ELP is delighted with the positive response from teachers and pupils alike to ELP’s Food Forest Education Programme, recently adopted by a number of local primary schools in Mayo. ELP aims to roll this out nationwide. We are now developing a template for secondary schools. This is real climate action.”