Growing project helps boost wellbeing of local schoolkids

published on 25 Jun 2024

A group of schoolkids are getting the chance to grow and eat their own vegetables thanks to an exciting initiative from The Salvation Army. 

The church and charity in Shotts runs an after-school and summer club called Kids Alive that supports working parents who might be struggling with cost-of-living pressures and also promotes healthy habits in young people.

Pupils from nearby Stane Primary who attend the club are now desperate to start harvesting their crops after planting seeds earlier in the year to grow potatoes, carrots, lettuce, onions and much more.

Pupils from Stane Primary School in Shotts

Salvation Army church leader Captain Amy-Jo Battersby says the project has been a hit with the children and reckons it’s even encouraging some of her pickier eaters to start eating vegetables.

Amy-Jo said:  “If the kids love the process of growing their own food, they’re more likely to eat it. Once they’ve grown it, we'll let them peel it and chop it up. Then it'll get cooked and served to them that same day as part of our after-school meal.

“The Kids Alive club is there to help working parents by providing an affordable, healthy environment for up to 20 children. The parents love it. For £2, their kids get three hours of childcare. For many working parents on lower incomes this is a massive help.

“We pick the children up after school and escort them to the hub in what we call a walking bus, come rain or shine. When they get here, they have a fruit snack and then we do some activities. And then at 4.30pm we sit down and have a healthy meal together where the kids can tell us about their day.

“There’s the vegetable planters and the potato growing bags. The kids also made a bee and insect hotel out of old jars and tins, plus butterflies were released into the garden. Here at Shotts we try to cut the grass less because we have wildflowers, helping with the biodiversity.  

As well as the activities on site, the team at Shotts run family trips to places such as Edinburgh Zoo and to other towns and cities. Amy-Jo added “It’s wonderful, everyone has a blast together. We all feel part of something bigger.”  

School pupil Jacob Whitelaw, age 6, from Shotts, loves growing potatoes and eating them mashed up with butter. He said: “I like seeing the leaves of the vegetables getting bigger because it means it’s growing. I’m really looking forward to picking out the potatoes from the bag. Hopefully we’ll have them mashed up with mince for dinner.”

School pupil Myla Sloane, age 6, from Shotts, says she enjoys getting to eat the lettuce she’s grown and playing with her friends. She said: “I love coming here after school and playing games. Sometimes we go to the park. I really love eating the lettuce we grow.”

One of The Salvation Army's mission priorities is ‘caring for creation’. The church and charity believes creation is a gift from God and everyone has a responsibility to be good stewards. It is committed to action to protect the environment, such as a Net Zero carbon emissions target and supporting all Salvation Army churches, care homes, hostels (known as lifehouses) and programmes to engage in activity that will reduce emissions.  

As part of this environmental work, The Salvation Army has its Get Growing scheme, a year-round growing guide that covers everything from the tools people need to get started, from sowing seeds to guidance on how to store produce correctly once grown.

A female Salvation Army worker with long dark hair, wearing a blue polo shirt sits on a safe in one of our Lifehouses with a man in his 30s. He has short dark hair and is wearing a grey jumper.

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