This project builds on a growing movement to increase children’s food, farming and nutritional literacy, not least as a platform for engagement with nature at a time when their attention is increasingly drawn elsewhere. Covid19 is highlighting the urgency for this by revealing the dangers of undermining ecosystem health and our vulnerability to supply chain risks.
Children are currently isolated at home with fewer opportunities to interact with the natural world outside. Their parents or carers, also facing the mental challenges of isolation, have been thrust into the role of full time minders, and many are struggling to come up with diverse, active, healthy and educational activities day after day.
Schools who have remained in contact with the children in this time are looking for activities for the children to conduct at home that are engaging and not solely screen-oriented, whilst complimenting specific learning objectives.
We help children and their families, who want to reconnect with the natural origins of their nutrition, by offering starter growing kits, with online videos which talk the children through the growing process in a series of fun and educational activities.
We are offering this service in close partnership with an existing Swiss social enterprise and aspiring B-Corp, Légumes Perchés, with whom we were connected during the VersusVirus Hackathon by the event network.
The starter kit consists of a physical seed pack; an envelope containing seeds, a growing medium and initial instructions, alongside a link to the videos, which are being designed with teachers to compliment school curriculums.
The seed pack is given to each child via participating school classes. There is a system in place to distribute homework packages by parents collecting them in person, so we have added the growing kits to these.
There is a wealth of evidence that growing and interacting with plants helps with mental health and isolation. Indeed astronauts take plants with them for this reason. In addition, planting seeds and tending to plants provides a rich platform for entertaining, enriching and educational activities.
How we built it
We put a lot of time into research and co-creation in 48 hours of hacking. We have diverse backgrounds ranging from politics, soil science, teaching to students. We did brainstorming together for many hours in the first day using Zoom, then used online sharing tools to pull our ideas together and build a prototype.
Challenges we ran into
A lot! But none too big to not be overcome! Since we came individually into this Hackathon project, coordinating between us with different Hackathon sessions was an issue.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
The introduction via the VersusVirus network to our now partner, and the addition of Melissa, a mother from Geneva, allowed us to launch immediately afterwards into a pilot which has now reached 5 schools and around 300 students in Geneva and near Lausanne, so far self funded and through voluntary effort.
The positive feedback and results of this pilot already have given us a huge motivation to scale up this initiative, and we have the capacity to do so,
What we learned
That it's very challenging, but not impossible, to collaborate in virtual hackathons :)
What's next for Growing Together
With VersusVirus financial, network and mentoring support, we plan is to engage around 100 schools with this project over the coming months, reaching up to 5000 children. We are focussing initially on the cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Zurich due to the locations and contacts of the team.