GIY launch the ‘GROW At School’ Food Education programme in Tipperary

This week 132 schools across the country head outside to plant the first crops from their garden kit as part of the GROW at School programme, an initiative bringing food education and outdoor learning

Earlier this year GIY launched a €3.2m fund to support GROW At School, with an ambition to see every primary school in Ireland granted a free garden, seeds and the resources required for learning how to grow food, reconnect with nature, and develop healthier, more sustainable food choices.


Founder of GIY Michael Kelly says, “We are delighted to officially begin GROW At School. This has long been an ambition for GIY and we are excited to be at this stage. Through this programme, we will enable 20,000 primary school children to learn about food growing this year. Getting their hands into the soil will be an invaluable learning experience.


The best thing about GROW At School is that all the resources, from the learning guides to the practical tools, are delivered to each school for free and this is due to philanthropic funds raised by GIY. We are calling on anyone with the means to support this programme to consider giving the unique gift of a school garden this Christmas season. This could be individuals, companies, foundations or even members of a school community. Every €2,000 sponsors a full school garden and access to the GROW At School programme for a school on the waiting list, while smaller amounts will support additional materials, educational content and a teacher training programme.”


Having run as a three-year pilot with 31 schools, the programme was outlined as a huge success.  Teachers declared that they found the garden to be an excellent teaching tool across most subjects of the curriculum and that it also allowed them to get closer to the pupils and learn more about them in an informal setting. Children experienced better overall well-being and interest in eating more vegetables, outcomes that have been found in numerous other studies on the topic.


Today in the St. John of God’s National School in Waterford City the students along with those at 132 primary schools nationwide got started on their food growing kits which include 4 raised beds with soil, 14 different vegetables to grow, a plan that works around the school year, and lesson plans adapted for all age groups. The first lesson focussing on food systems aims to teach kids from junior infants up about the journey their food goes on from the very beginning and is freely available on the GIY website.


Michael added: “This year we have 132 schools taking part across 24 counties nationwide with one in four of those schools being DEIS schools. It is our goal to have at least 500 schools across the country participate during the 2023 / 24 school year –  we already have 250 schools on this wait list (registration is open and ongoing at So, the interest is there, and we just need the financial support to back it.”


For further details on GIY and GROW At School see





GIY are a leading social enterprise supporting people, schools &
communities around the world to live healthier, happier and more sustainable lives by growing some of their own food. In 2021, 1.2 million people engaged in food growing with GIY. Our mission is a movement of 100 million people growing some of their own food by 2030.


GIY has supported food growing in schools across Ireland and the UK since 2014, through a classroom-based food growing programme called The Big Grow, a collaborative community/school-based programme called Community Classrooms, and GROW At School, a school garden programme piloted with 32 schools over the last 3 years (2019-2022). Over 1 million primary school children have taken part in these GIY food education programmes. In 2021 alone, over 5,000 schools took part in the Big Grow Ireland and the UK (including engagement with 55% of Irish primary schools).


GIY has proven capability in delivering national food growing programmes at scale, including under public sector remit as demonstrated through the GROW It Forward programme in 2021.


About the GROW At School PROGRAMME: 


At GIY, we envision a world where all food is produced, distributed and consumed in a manner that is healthy for our planet and its people. The most effective way to achieve this vision is by engaging with our young citizens—our future agents of change. Integrating food literacy and fostering food empathy through the primary curriculum ensures that we reach children at crucial development stages that can influence long-term behaviour change. And long-term change is exactly what we need to build a sustainable future and a better world.


GROW At School is a garden-based food education programme. It is designed to provide food system knowledge & understanding across all primary school cohorts, supported via curriculum-based content & expertise and a teacher training programme. It is designed to equip teachers with the tools & expertise to establish food growing as a catalyst for healthier, more sustainable food choices for students and their families.


Participating schools receive standardized vegetable garden kits, consisting of four raised beds, soil, fertiliser, and a variety of seeds for planting throughout the school year. Supporting resources are provided, including a School Garden Plan designed for growing within the academic year, limiting maintenance over the summer months. Teachers receive learning resources, linking activities in the garden to areas of the curriculum, as well as monthly newsletters highlighting garden tips and tricks.


The GROW At School Programme supports the vision of the National Council for Curriculum & Assessment (NCCA):


“The curriculum aims to provide a strong foundation for every child to thrive and flourish, supporting them in realising their full potential as individuals and as members of communities and society during childhood and into the future. Building on their previous experiences, the curriculum views children as unique, capable and caring individuals, and teachers as committed, skilful and agentic professionals. It supports high-quality teaching, learning and assessment that is inclusive and evidence-based supporting each child to make progress in all areas of their learning and development”. (NCCA, 2020)

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