School Kitchen opens new kitchen garden to feed young minds and hungry people ​

29 April, 24
School Kitchen, the new food delivery initiative in York, has opened its new kitchen garden at Carr Junior School, part of the South Bank Multi Academy Trust.

School Kitchen, the new food delivery initiative in York, has opened its new kitchen garden at Carr Junior School, part of the South Bank Multi Academy Trust.

Produce from the kitchen garden will be used by both School Kitchen for its four restaurants, as well as by pupils for school cookery classes, with any surplus going to parents in need. The garden will also be incorporated into cooking demonstrations for pupils, when they will be able to select their own ingredients for cookery lessons, with the aim of showing them where food comes from. The kitchen garden will be used to grow broccoli, onions, potatoes, chillies, basil, courgettes, spinach, lettuce, and other crops.

Nial Moran, commis chef at School Kitchen, is also the main onsite gardener, and has been joined by a landscape gardener, Tom Brown, to set up the growing space. The site has been prepared for planting by cutting off the existing turf, aerating the soil, and adding compost and lime to increase the pH. The first crops have already been planted, including shallots and three varieties of potatoes, and the team have installed a large polytunnel. School Kitchen and the pupils of Carr Junior School will be able to use the produce as soon as it has grown and is ready to eat.

Sustainability is another key aim, with the initiative installing solar panels at partner schools to generate electricity, as well as using bikes or electric mopeds for all deliveries.

School Kitchen are also sending out compostable bags with every order, into which customers can put the biodegradable packaging, ready for delivery drivers to collect next time they order a takeaway. The collected bags will then be composted into organic matter for the kitchen garden.

David Nicholson, Managing Director of School Kitchen, said: “We came up with the idea of setting up a kitchen garden during the tasting session for Pirivena, the Sri Lankan restaurant, back in February. The menu includes a Seasonal Vegetable Kari, so we were discussing how to get fresh seasonal vegetables and Neil (Meyer, Head of Operations) suggested setting up a kitchen garden on a piece of land by the kitchen that the school wasn’t using.

“It was clearly a great idea – not only would we have the freshest possible ingredients to put in our dishes, but we’d be able to teach the pupils at the school about growing food, tying in nicely with the cookery lessons we’re running for them. It turned out that Nial (Moran, commis chef) was an avid gardener and was keen to develop his gardening skills, so we asked Vicki (Kerr, headteacher). She loved the idea, so we got Tom (Brown, Landscape gardener) involved and set about making it happen.”

The community-focused initiative will also be providing apprenticeship jobs for school leavers, with the purpose of offering opportunities to the next generation. All of School Kitchen’s employees, from chefs to delivery riders, are being paid at least the current living wage of £12ph.

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