Unlocking the benefits of school and community gardens

The International Green Academy is an interdisciplinary research project exploring how school and community gardens can transform cities and bring important benefits to both students and communities across Leeds and Glasgow. The urban educational farm at Harehills in Leeds, which is based at local charity CATCH (Community Action to Create Hope), recently featured on BBC News.

Dr Ian Shaw, who is based in the School of Politics and International Studies and oversees the project at the University of Leeds, commented:

The aim is to empower young people to grow fruit and vegetables as a local food source, but also develop important teamwork skills, personal development and build new environmental futures. This is an increasingly urgent task in an age of profound ecological and social challenges to the planet.

Whilst there are over 4,000 secondary schools in the UK, the potential of school gardens remain under-researched. The project focuses on how urban gardens offer a space for outdoor learning, fresh food for food banks and an important space to promote health and wellbeing for students. The research will provide important insights into the effectiveness of school gardens.

The project is an international collaboration between researchers from the Universities of Leeds, Glasgow, and Arizona, in addition to teachers and young people from those communities. The Glasgow Times also recently highlighted the project based at Glasgow University.

How to get involved

With the COP26 summit coming up in November, Dr Ian Shaw will be hosting an event geared towards bringing links with young people across Leeds, as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2021.

If you are interested in getting involved, particularly if you are connected to a local school in Leeds, contact Dr Ian Shaw.