More Beetroot Anyone? Warwickshire LEADER Cooperation project proves a recipe for success !

The Central Warwickshire Villages LEADER programme, based at Garden Organic, is celebrating after its international cooperation project, Growing Gastronauts, won a major European award.

The Growing Gastronauts project, which links schools from Central Warwickshire with schools from France and Estonia to help them learn about gardening and food, has won the Resources and Environment category of the Nordic-Baltic Transnational Cooperation Projects Awards. The awards recognise rural development projects working with European communities and saw over 60 entries put forward for this year’s competition.

Representatives from the Growing Gastronauts project received their award at a gala ceremony in Tallin, Estonia. They won the award by impressing the judges’ panel ahead of a bees and biodiversity initiative, a forest trail scheme and a maritime heritage project, who were included among their category entries.

The project involves five LEADER Local Actions Groups; Central Warwickshire Villages, Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership, Vallée Du Loir (France), Hiiumaa (Estonia) and Saaremaa (Estonia) working together over the last two and a half years to strengthen links between local schools and local food producers and help children understand more about where their food comes from. Four Warwickshire primary schools have been involved in the project; Binley Woods Primary School, Wolston, St Margarets, the Ferncumbe School in Hatton and All Saints in Leek Wootton and activities included Warwickshire children getting to try beetroot soup while Estonian children sampled apple crumble.

Project originator and Manager for Growing Gastronauts, Andy Smith of International Consultancy Services, said “It’s great to get recognition for this project which has involved a huge amount of work for many people across the Partnership. It’s been wonderful to see children growing and tasting new veg and exchanging recipes and ideas with partner schools across Europe.”

Julia Hurt, class teacher and Gardening Club lead at Binley Woods said: “The project has been a huge success from our point of view. Our children have had the opportunity to link with children in rural communities in France and Estonia and participate in shared projects involving growing and cooking.


“An additional benefit has been that children have been able to practise their language skills in a real-life context. We feel we have developed sustainable relationships with our partners, which will enable us to develop the children’s knowledge and skills even further in the future.”

Later this year an online international recipe book and education resource pack will be created to enable others to learn from the project and sample the dishes.

Each LAG has brought a slightly different perspective to the partnership but their shared aims have been to teach children about food through practical work e.g. gardening clubs, school farmers’ markets, food preparation etc. and look at the implementation options for shorter supply chains from farm to fork, and to exchange experience and to learn from each other.  As well as school linking this has involved study visits to and from France, Estonia and UK to learn about the differing procurement processes for school catering and visit LEADER projects around local food and farming. .

The Central Warwickshire Villages LEADER programme is funding projects until the end of 2013 for rural parishes of Rugby and Warwick looking to boost economic and social activity in their area.

Central Warwickshire LEADER aims to promote the use of services in rural areas through horticultural activities, art initiatives and farming industry links with a focus on creating a strong sense of place and promoting sustainable and inclusive rural communities. Further details about LEADER are available from the Programme Management Team.