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The Secret Seed Society produce a series of children's books, aimed at teaching children to take responsibility for their environment by encouraging them to grow organic vegetables. Each pack includes a packet of seeds for children to plant. The idea behind the project is to educate children through play and activity to learn about food and where it comes from, to encourage them to make healthy food choices for life.
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1. What’s a propagator? Is it like an alligator?

Here’s some tips on propagating plants from seed from a workshop we ran for young growers at Cultivate Waltham Forest.

My propagator

A propagator creates the perfect conditions for growing vegetables from seeds, keeping the soil moist and the air warm. You can buy a propagator like this in our shop
made out of recycled plastic and designed for re-use. You can craft a propagator out of a plastic food or drink container. By using a propagator your seedlings should be showing within a week.



DSCF4479

Let propagation begin!! It’s super simple, fill your propagator with compost, seeds and water. But here are some tips that we have learned.

 

Make less mess and save on compost by holding your pots over the bowl of compost while you fill them.

 

3 prop

Lay your seeds out on top of your pots so that you know where you’ve planted. Label them, before covering them with a layer of compost, so you don’t end up double planting the same pot.

 

helping pot

Take the time to help younger growers learn how to do the simple tasks and then you can work as a team.

 

dirty hands

Don’t worry about getting your hands dirty, you can wash them later. Wearing an apron can help keep your clothes clean and give you something to wipe your hands on while your working.

 

DSCF4500

Growing vegetables together as a family is a great way to start eating more healthily. The curiosity and enthusiasm for cooking from scratch will stretch beyond the things that you grow.

 

DSCF4532

You can label the pots by cutting strips of plastic from yogurt pots or sticking card labels on cocktail sticks. Or if you want a surprise and are up for the challenge of trying to identify what you have grown in a weeks time don’t label them. Look at the leaf shapes and colours and see if you know what you have grown. Don’t be disappointed if it all looks like cress, lots of brassicas and leafy vegetables look very similar in the early stages.

 

DSCF4525

While taking it in turns and helping each other is important making up challenges like racing your brother to sprout a seedling first makes nurturing and tracking the progress of your plants even more exciting.

 

dirty hands 1

Remember to wash your hands after gardening and water your seeds regularly to keep the soil moist.

 

Traffic Light Propagator CU

The Traffic Light Propagator Kit has three different coloured propagators, three storybooks and three packets of seeds for the following vegetable characters: Rio Rocket, Rudi Radish and Carla Carrot. Available from Secret Seed Society Shop

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2. I want to be a Farmer! Meet Brandon

Brandon Farmer 1

Meet Brandon, 17 year old, urban farmer.

From the age of 3 everything Brandon wanted to do was animal based. He begged his parents to take him to the zoo and farms. He had dogs and cats for pets. He thought about being a zoo keeper but it’s hard to get work experience at a zoo or a pet shop at 11 years old.


Stepney City Farm
When funding allows, Stepney City Farm gives people of all ages the chance to learn about farming. For a young animal enthusiast, being able to be hands-on with caring for the animals was a dream and Brandon decided to pursue farming as a career.

What do your parents think about your love of farming?
They used to tell me “animals don’t bring money in when you are older”. So they would encourage me to study maths so I could be an accountant. But I would say “I’d rather work outside in the mud than sit in-doors in a suit, whatever the money.” Being good at maths is really helpful in farming, you’re an entrepreneur always thinking of the best way to do things.

How did you turn your interest into a job?
From my experience on the City Farm I decided to go to college and study Animal Management. It was at college that I got my first paid job. My tutors encouraged me to apply. I wouldn’t have done it without them. I wouldn’t have been confident enough. I now work on two farms in London.

Sheep

Will you always be on a city farm?
My dream is to have a big piece of land with a herd of sheep. I was always asking for a field for Xmas. Now I’m planning to get some land by the time I’m 24. I’m learning how to do it. I know some things like I need to register with DEFRA and get a herd number.

Have you been to a large rural farm?
No, not really. I have driven past them, but I’m yet to work on one.

Would your family come with you?
I think my family would get bored. I am looking to get a piece of land with a friend who is studying at another college in London. It’s always great to share ideas with him.

What’s the hardest things about farming?

  • At first I would get attached to the animals and it would be hard to see them gone from the farm.
  • The City Farms are always struggling for funding and it can be hard watching a vibrant place deteriorate because of a funding cut.
  • What’s the best things about farming?

  • In March and April, when it is lambing season it’s very satisfying to see the lambs skipping around.
  • I am always meeting new people on a farm. I’ve met loads of friends through farming.
  • Now,seeing something that I raised go off to slaughter is super satisfying.


  • Sheep Farmer

    Sheep Farmer

    Do you feel respected wanting to be a farmer?
    At secondary school it was the same, “You just work with poo, you smell all the time.”
    My mates thought it was easy. I brought some of them to the farm and they said it was the hardest thing they’d done. I think people respect my commitment. Different people want to be different things. My friends are all going to university but I’m proud of what I do, I get to see stuff that other people only get to se on the TV! It’s pretty special.



    What’s next for Brandon?
    He’ll be doing work experience, lambing, in March and has applied for an apprenticeship on a City Farm in North London.
    sheep brandon 2

    More..If you want to know more about the life that Brandon is dreaming of, you can watch the Addicted to Sheep programme on BBC iplayer. We’ll be catching up with Brandon in March after his lambing experience.
    More…I want to be a farmer! Meet Amy & Dan

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    3. I want to be a farmer! Meet Amy & Dan

    lamb dan

    Do you want to be a farmer?

    ‘Yes, The great outdoors, fresh air, creating an edible landscape, being your own boss and hanging out with sheep and pigs.’
    ‘No, not me! It’s hard work, it’s smelly, muddy and I can’t even keep cress alive on my windowsill, I have the least green fingers, I would starve.’

    We’ve all sang Old McDonald had a farm and can draw our idea of a farmer, a well-fed man, layers of jumpers, a Barbor coat, wellies and a red tractor but what do we know about the life of a farmer today? When was the last time you met a farmer? And who would you send your CV to if you wanted to be a farmer?

    I went to the Oxford Real Farming Conference in search of today’s happy farmers, to find out how they got into it and what life is really like.

    salad amy & dan

    Meet Dan and Amy who are farmers with their friends in the South of England. They are setting up a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture project, where people in the local area can buy a membership to their farm which entitles them to a weekly box of fruit and vegetables. It’s a popular new way to get into farming, since a successful business can be run on just one acre. It requires good marketing and community development skills, so if you are good with Facebook, Instagram and writing friendly emails you could be invaluable in the development of a CSA’s community.
    Farming suits Dan because he loves to solve problems and build things get to take 100% of the retail price to cover their costs of food production and delivery. This is good for the customers too, they get higher quality food for the same price, since there are less costs of refridgeration and shipping to transport.

    What did they want to be when they were children?
    Dan: I wanted to be an inventor, an explorer, or an architect or be ship-wrecked and become all three.
    Amy: I wanted to train horses or be a hairdresser.

    Dan and Amy didn’t grow up on farms or wanting to be farmers but it suits Dan’s love of building and designing things and Amy’s love of being outdoors and using scissors to harvest the salad.

    wheelbarrow veg
    What’s your favourite thing to grow?
    Dan: Apples and pears because it takes patience to grow good trees that bear the most beautiful, tasty fruit.
    Amy: I like fast growing plants like beetroot! It’s amazing to think where all that purple flesh comes from. I like growing flowers too.

    Why do you love being a farmer?
    Dan: Because farming is all about caring, looking after the plants and animals to make them as healthy as possible, which makes the people who eat them as healthy as possible.
    Amy: I love being a farmer because you don’t have to go to shops to buy your food. I also like being outside and feeling the changes in the seasons.

    What is your favourite vegetable to eat?
    Dan: I like potatoes because you can bake them, mash them, fry them or boil them and they are always so tasty and filling. I also love purple sprouting broccoli because its so deliciously juicy, sweet and healthy.

    Amy: I like beetroot because it tastes like the soil and makes everything pink. I make it into chocolate cake, eat it raw or pickle it for the winter.

    If you were a vegetable what would you be?
    Dan: I would be a potato because they like to be snuggled up in a cosy bed but they are so joyful when they are dug up and come out into the sunshine.
    Amy: I would be a cucumber, because they are cool!

    Who is your favourite Secret Seed Society character and why?
    Dan: I like Albon Asparagus because he has good ideas.
    Amy: I like Babs Beetroot because of her hair and she’s a bit of a tom-boy.

    Dan carrot

    Top tips
    Dan: When saving the world it’s good to be healthy and happy, vegetables make us healthy and happy. Good growers are healthy and happy, who grow healthy and happy vegetables. Oh what it is to be spinning in a virtuous circle!
    Amy: To be a great grower you have to watch everything very carefully and notice what is happening to your plants. You also have to be a detective to work out why things are happening and what your plants might need.

    More…Hear what small-scale farmers in the UK and beyond are uptodFarmerama
    More…Blogs from independent UK Farmers Indie Farmer

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    4. Secret Seed Society supports the Harvest-ometer Challenge

    DSCF3962

    Ask your school to take part…

    Capital Growth is challenging schools to grow and measure as much as they can using our Harvest-ometer, a simple online tool designed to track how much food your school grows in kilograms and pounds (£).

    We will support schools throughout the year with growing tips, training, competitions and more. At the end of the competitions, in July 2016, prizes will be awarded for:

  • Most food grown per square meter
  • Biggest range of produce
  • Growing School Hero
  • Competition Prizes
  • Three winning schools will receive a place at our School Marketplace at City Hall and one of the prizes below:
  • A mini orchard and apple press
  • Visit from a professional beekeeper
  • A chicken coop, a rescued chicken and 20% discount on chicken care training
  • All schools taking part will receive a Growing Certificate highlighting how many pupils were involved and how many kilograms of food were harvested.
  • To enter the competition:

    If you are a Capital Growth Member click on ‘The Harvest-ometer Challenge’. If you are not yet part of Capital Growth, sign up your school for free here. If you have any question email julie@sustainweb.org

    Our Support

    Capital Growth will provide all schools taking part in the Harvest-ometer Challenge with
    Seeds (from the Secret Seed Society and Chase Organic), growing instructions & school growing calendar
    Curriculum-based Harvest-ometer medium term and individual lesson plans for KS2 and KS3
    Directory of local & national organisations supporting school gardens
    Free place at one of our training sessions
    This challenge is part of Food Growing Schools: London Growathon, a London-wide initiative to get every school growing

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    5. EAT YOUR LANTERN – Four Easy Pumpkin Recipes

    It’s Pumpkin season. Here are 4 delicious recipes: toasted pumpkin seeds, spiced pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin spaghetti and frozen pumpkin yogurt desert. So don’t waste a thing when you carve your lantern this year. Happy Halloween!

     

    Make a pumpkin lantern and a four course meal!

    Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Scoop the goo and seeds out of the middle of the pumpkin into a colander.
  • Remove fleshy bits, rinse under tap to wash off the goo.
  • Dry off seeds with clean towel
  • Place in hot oven or frying pan with glug of oil, sprinkle pinch of salt / soya sauce, ground black pepper.
  • They should be done in 10 minutes. Eat warm or store for 1 week in airtight container once cooled. Great sprinkled on salads.
  • Spiced Pumpkin Soup

    To serve 6. Keeps in fridge for 3 days or frozen.

    1. Put the following in a tray to roast in oven 180 degrees, till soft and golden, about 30mins:

  • 1kg of roughly chopped pumpkin
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 onions cut into quarters
  • 4 tbsp of oil
  • Optional, apples that need eating up, core and cut into quarters.
  • 2. Put the following together and liquidise until desired smoothness:

  • Roasted goodies from above.
  • 2 pints of stock of your choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
  • Optional, if you like it creamy, add 200ml of tofu or creme fraiche.
  • 3. Place in a saucepan and bring back to boil.

  • Serve with your own spooky crutons or toast.
  • Roast Tomato, Rosemary and Pumpkin Spaghetti

    To serve 4.

    Put the following in a tray to roast in oven 180 degrees, till soft and golden, about 30mins:

  • 1kg of roughly chopped pumpkin
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 16-20 small tomatoes, the last of your home grown ones.
  • 4 large sprigs of rosemary, lots of people have it growing in their garden, and it grows wild, so ask around to find your own friendly and free supply.
  • 2 red onions cut into rings
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • Caramelised Pumpkin Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt

    Serves 4-8. Store in freezer to eat another day

    Put the following in a tray to roast in oven 180 degrees, till soft and golden, about 30mins:

  • 1kg of roughly chopped pumpkin
  • A glug of sunflower oil
  • 2 Tbspoons of brown sugar
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon
  • Leave the pumpkin to cool then blend:

  • Roasted pumpkin.
  • 500ml of vanilla yogurt, plain yogurt or double cream.
  • 15 ice cubes
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    6. 10 best vegetables to grow with kids

    Here’s Secret Seed Society’s recommendation of the 10 best vegetables for you and your children to grow from seed. We’ve chosen them for their variety in colour, flavour, shape and seasonality. This selection of vegetable seeds will teach your children about how a seed germinates, the conditions seeds need to grow into healthy plants, which parts of plants we can eat and how to harvest them. You can meet all of these vegetables in our Story & Seed Packs.


    chrissie-cress
    1) CHRISSIE CRESS
    You can’t beat cress for a first time growing and eating experience.
    Sow: Any time of the year, on tissue, cotton wool or compost on a windowsill
    Growing: Make sure the seeds are kept moist.
    Harvest: 1 week after sowing
    Eat: Be ready to share this new mind-blowing flavour experience with your children, homegrown cress is hot and peppery and can be a bit of a shock. Our favourite is to mix it in an egg or cheese sandwich.

    Learn more about and order a Chrissie Cress Story & Seed Pack

    Mingo-Mung
    2) MINGO MUNGBEAN
    Sow: Any time of the year in a jam jar
    Growing: Soak the beans for 12 hours then rinse morning and night, draining well.
    Harvest: The bean sprouts will be ready to eat in 5 days.
    Eat: Crunchy bean sprouts can be added to salads or tossed into stir fries. You can sprout other beans and seeds like chick peas and lentils learn more


    Learn more about and order a MINGO MUNGBEAN STORY & SEED PACK

    Bruno-Broadbean
    3) BRUNO BROADBEAN
    Sow: Late Autumn or Feb/March, you can start them in news-paper pots then plant them in the ground.
    Grow: Blackflies love the tender top leaves, when there are some flowers on the stem nip out the top, before they infest.
    Harvest: Large pods, 10 weeks later
    Eat: Top leaves are eaten like greens, small pods can be eaten whole or pop the beans raw from the pods. Also delicious in fritters, or as a paste on toast.


    Meet Bruno Broadbean in his Cafe in Mingo Mungbean’s story & seed pack



    PC-PEA-POD
    4) PC PEA POD
    Sow: In a seed tray in Spring or direct in ground in May and June
    Growing: Peas need twigs to grow up, clinging to them with their tendrils.
    Harvest: Mange-tout peas are great for kids as they eat the whole pod often straight from the plant. Round peas need to be left until the pods swell and then popped from the pods.
    Eat: Salads, stir fries, boiled with a sprig of mint….so many ways.




    Will PC Pea Pod catch Seed City Thief find out in Rio Rocket’s storybook

    babs beetroot!
    5) BABS BEETROOT
    Sow: From Spring through to Summer, sow every couple of weeks so you have a supply of tiny beetroots fresh from the garden.
    Growing: Sow direct in the ground well spread out.
    Harvest: About 60-90 days later you should find a golf ball sized root.
    Eat: Wash the root and leaves, cook in boiling water. Tiny beets take 10mins, older woodier beets 30mins at least. They’ll stain everything pinky purple so be warned. Delicious in a salad with roasted nuts.




    BABS BEETROOT is on an adventure with Rio Rocket

    carla-carrot
    6) CARLA CARROT
    Sow: April, May in sandy soil. They are going to around 10 weeks to be ready.
    Growing: Plant near onions and chives or in raised pots to prevent carrot fly.
    Harvest: After about 10 weeks you should be able to pull a small carrot from the ground.
    Eat: Endlessly useful, carrot sticks for picnics, lunches and snacks, grated to add sweetness and colour to salads and soups.




    BUY CARLA CARROT STORY & SEED PACK


    rudi-radish
    7) RUDI RADISH
    Sow: 1cm deep direct in ground in rows. From April-May then August-September.
    Growing: Keep moist
    Harvest: Pull when small and crisp
    Eat: Normally not cooked but ideal for dips and snacks.


    BUY RUDI RADI STORY & SEED PACK

    Rio-Rocket
    8) RIO ROCKET
    Sow: Under a cloche or on a windowsill from February onwards, direct in the garden from mid-March-May then July-September
    Growing: If you have a greenhouse you can get a great crop throughout the Winter, if not grow it on your windowsill for a few leaves that will add a fresh garnish to Winter dishes.
    Harvest:The ultimate cut and come again crop, pinch off the leaves and more appear. When it goes to seed eat the flowers.
    Eat: Salads, sprinkle over pizzas or chop into a paste for pasta.




    BUY RIO ROCKET STORY & SEED PACK


    sanghita-so
    9) SANGHITA SPRING ONION
    Sow: Straight into ground. Best in a row as looks like grass to start with.
    Grow: Keep well watered and keep sowing every month.
    Harvest: Thin rows by pulling the tiny onions and leave the rest to grow bigger.
    Eat: Raw or cooked onions add a tongue tingling taste to salads, stir fries or chop and stir into potatoes or other root vegetables for added zing.


    Sanghita Spring Onion plays the tambourine with Rudi Radish.


    desiree-potato
    10) DESIREE POTATO
    Sow: Potatoes are not grown from seed but from an old potato (seed potato).
    Grow: Plant 3-4 seed potatoes in 30cm of compost in an old compost bag that is rolled down and has drainage holes pierced in it. When green shoots appear at the top add more compost to the top unrolling the bag up to 60cm
    Harvest: Wait  until the bag top is covered with leaves and perhaps a flower. Tip up the bag and search the compost for new potatoes. See who gets the biggest and the smallest.
    Eat: Boiled, mashed, fried, roasted, always cooked. Try this ‘Potato Pizza’ recipe.


    Desiree plays the spoons with Rudi Radish

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    7. Make your own Vegetable Mask

    Vegetable Masks

    Make and wear masks of your favourite fruit and vegetable characters from Seed City. This is perfect for a crafty classroom activity, family fun on a rainy days or an arty birthday party.



    Vegetable Mask making

  • Skills: Observation and identification of vegetables. Colouring in and craft. Assembly of pieces.
  • Print out the PDFs to help you with your creation.
  • We recommend taking a look at the vegetable or fruit of the mask you are making to see the different textures and colours.
  • If you mount your mask on cardboard it will lasts longer and you can collage it in different materials.
  • Albon Asparagus Mask

    Albon Mask top JPG

    Albon Asparagus Mask PDF

    Carla Carrot Mask Bunches JPG

    Carla Carrot Mask JPG

    Carla Carrot Mask PDF


    Sanghita Mask

    Sanghita Mask JPG

    Sanghita Spring Onion PDF

    Stella Strawberry Hat JPG

    Stella Strawberry JPG

    Stella Strawberry Mask PDF


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    8. Learning is fun with Secret Seed Society

    LEYF open day

    During Henry Fawcett Open Day

    London Early Years Foundation see active play at the heart of the learning which takes place at their nurseries. This Spring their open days for parents focused on growing activities and they designed some fun workshops around the Secret Seed Society characters and online activities. Which you can try at home or at your nursery.




    4-pack-bundle

    Every nursery received a boxset of Secret Seed Society Storybooks and Seeds. “The children were excited by the packaging and getting to unwrap their seed packet. They enjoyed the story and excitedly shouted out different vegetables and activities in the story.” Recounted Cat Wederell, who works at the Nursery at Marsham Street.


    Painting vegetable masks

    Painting vegetable masks


    “Children love the outdoors and are fascinated by things that grow. Exploring living things stimulates children’s creative thinking and instils a sense of awe and wonder. The books and seeds from the Secret Seed Society featuring vegetable characters are a great way to make learning fun.” June O’Sullivan, CEO London Early Years Foundation (LEYF)

    Cat, one of the helpers at Marsham Nursery who helped the children to grow their Chrissie Cress seeds said “They kept an eye on their seeds, having a daily look. They were happy to try the cress after seeing me eat some, and were surprised with the taste! I will include it in sandwiches next time!” .

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    9. Bees in the City Workshops

    Bee Comb

    Bee Comb

    Workshop 1, Wednesday July 29 : 10am – 12pm : Culpeper Community Garden, Islington.

    Heriades Bee

    Heriades Bee

    Workshop 2, Wednesday July 29: 2pm – 4pm: Roots and Shoots Garden, Kennington.
    We’ll seek out some rare bees like this Heriades. Be inspired to design and make your own solitary bee home by witnessing the largest manmade solitary bee home in London the Trellic Tower.

    Wild Bee Comb

    Wild Bee Comb

    Workshop 3, Friday July 31: 10am – 11.30am : Pop Brixton, Brixton


    Join us in the Greenhouse at POP Brixton. We’re going to build a giant wild comb and make your own designer solitary bee house. Bring your purse and get a delicious juice and stay for a delicious healthy lunch from HOME GROWN.
    beetroot

    Bees pollinate our fruit and veg

    Workshop 4, Friday July 31: 2pm-3.30pm : Calthorpe Project, WC1X 8LH
    Heloise from Bootstrap Bees will share the sounds from inside her honey bee hive. Bring a picnic and enjoy the afternoon in this enchanting urban garden.

    Bee tower

    Trellic Tower for Bees

    Working with Secret Seed Society, the Museum of Architecture has designed four workshops aimed to teach children – and their parents and carers – how bees in the city live and show how their lifestyles are similar to those of people. Secret Seed Society’s Amy Cooper  will describe the importance of bees in our ecosystem and where you can find them in London. This interactive workshop is full of experiences, games and crafting which will grow you and your child’s knowledge and appreciation for bees and their vital role in our ecosystem. The second half of the workshop is your chance to use some of your new knowledge and creative flair to make your own designer solitary bee home, to take away and hang in a tree near where you live. Materials and supplies for bee house designs are included in the ticket price. Children must be accompanied by an adult with no more than 3 children per adult.

    Add a Comment
    10. 10 best vegetables to grow with kids

    Here’s our recommendation of the 10 best vegetables which you and your children can grow from seed. We’ve chosen them for their variety in colour, flavour, shape and seasonality. This selection of vegetable seeds will teach your children about how a seed germinates, the conditions that they need to grow into plants and  how to harvest the different parts of the plants for food.



    chrissie-cress
    1) CHRISSIE CRESS
    You can’t beat cress for a first time growing and eating experience.
    Sow: Any time of the year, on tissue, cotton wool or compost on a windowsill
    Growing: Make sure the seeds are kept moist.
    Harvest: 1 week after sowing
    Eat: Be ready to share this new mind-blowing flavour experience with your children, homegrown cress is hot and peppery and can be a bit of a shock. Our favourite is to mix it in an egg or cheese sandwich.

    Mingo-Mung
    2) MINGO MUNGBEAN
    Sow: Any time of the year in a jam jar
    Growing: Soak the beans for 12 hours then rinse morning and night, draining well.
    Harvest: The bean sprouts will be ready to eat in 5 days.
    Eat: Crunchy bean sprouts can be added to salads or tossed into stir fries. You can sprout other beans and seeds like chick peas and lentils learn more

    Bruno-Broadbean
    3) BRUNO BROADBEAN
    Sow: Late Autumn or Feb/March, you can start them in news-paper pots then plant them in the ground.
    Grow: Blackflies love the tender top leaves, when there are some flowers on the stem nip out the top, before they infest.
    Harvest: Large pods, 10 weeks later
    Eat: Top leaves are eaten like greens, small pods can be eaten whole or pop the beans raw from the pods. Also delicious in fritters, or as a paste on toast.

    PC-PEA-POD
    4) PC PEA POD
    Sow: In a seed tray in Spring or direct in ground in May and June
    Growing: Peas need twigs to grow up, clinging to them with their tendrils.
    Harvest: Mange-tout peas are great for kids as they eat the whole pod often straight from the plant. Round peas need to be left until the pods swell and then popped from the pods.
    Eat: Salads, stir fries, boiled with a sprig of mint….so many ways.

    babs beetroot!
    5) BABS BEETROOT
    Sow: From Spring through to Summer, sow every couple of weeks so you have a supply of tiny beetroots fresh from the garden.
    Growing: Sow direct in the ground well spread out.
    Harvest: About 60-90 days later you should find a golf ball sized root.
    Eat: Wash the root and leaves, cook in boiling water. Tiny beets take 10mins, older woodier beets 30mins at least. They’ll stain everything pinky purple so be warned. Delicious in a salad with roasted nuts.

    carla-carrot
    6) CARLA CARROT
    Sow: April, May in sandy soil. They are going to around 10 weeks to be ready.
    Growing: Plant near onions and chives or in raised pots to prevent carrot fly.
    Harvest: After about 10 weeks you should be able to pull a small carrot from the ground.
    Eat: Endlessly useful, carrot sticks for picnics, lunches and snacks, grated to add sweetness and colour to salads and soups.

    rudi-radish
    7) RUDI RADISH
    Sow: 1cm deep direct in ground in rows. From April-May then August-September.
    Growing: Keep moist
    Harvest: Pull when small and crisp
    Eat: Normally not cooked but ideal for dips and snacks.

    Rio-Rocket
    8) RIO ROCKET
    Sow: Under a cloche or on a windowsill from February onwards, direct in the garden from mid-March-May then July-September
    Growing: If you have a greenhouse you can get a great crop throughout the Winter, if not grow it on your windowsill for a few leaves that will add a fresh garnish to Winter dishes.
    Harvest:The ultimate cut and come again crop, pinch off the leaves and more appear. When it goes to seed eat the flowers.
    Eat: Salads, sprinkle over pizzas or chop into a paste for pasta.

    sanghita-so
    9) SANGHITA SPRING ONION
    Sow: Straight into ground. Best in a row as looks like grass to start with.
    Grow: Keep well watered and keep sowing every month.
    Harvest: Thin rows by pulling the tiny onions and leave the rest to grow bigger.
    Eat: Raw or cooked onions add a tongue tingling taste to salads, stir fries or chop and stir into potatoes or other root vegetables for added zing.

    desiree-potato
    10) DESIREE POTATO
    Sow: Potatoes are not grown from seed but from an old potato (seed potato).
    Grow: Plant 3-4 seed potatoes in 30cm of compost in an old compost bag that is rolled down and has drainage holes pierced in it. When green shoots appear at the top add more compost to the top unrolling the bag up to 60cm
    Harvest: Wait  until the bag top is covered with leaves and perhaps a flower. Tip up the bag and search the compost for new potatoes. See who gets the biggest and the smallest.
    Eat: Boiled, mashed, fried, roasted, always cooked. Try this ‘Potato Pizza’ recipe.

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    11. Bruno Broadbean’s Flipper Recipe

    Ingredients:

    - 1 cup of flour: wheat, spelt or buckwheat if you want them gluten free.
    - 1 cup of liquid: dairy milk, water, soya milk, nut milk.
    - 1 egg: or leave out the egg and add some extra liquid, mashed banana or apple sauce.
    - Pinch of salt
    - Baking powder: not essential but for a fluffier Flipper
    - Spoon of grease: butter, oil or goose fat, if you dare.

    How to cook

    1. Dip a sheet of kitchen towel in the grease and rub the pan until shiny

    2. Whisk the rest of the ingredients until you have formed a smooth batter.

    3. If you have time to let your batter rest you can expect smoother Flipper, you can even leave it over night.

    If you can’t wait crack on…

    4. Grab a grown up to help you get your frying pan hot so that the grease is sizzling but not so hot it is burning.

    5. Flippers only take a second to make, which is one reason why they’re so great.

    6. Swirl the batter around the pan so it is evenly spread. Depending on how big you are and how big your frying pan is, you might need a grown up to do this for you.

    7. Watch the batter turn into a Flipper.Wait till it’s solidified & then loosen the sides with a spatula.

    8. Now it’s time for the FLIP! This is definitely something to learn from a grown up. Not many of them can do it and it’s fun to see them stick it to the ceiling, the floor and their own faces.

    9. You should now be looking at one golden brown side of your flipper.
    Wait for the other side to cook and then it’s done. Your first Flipper ready to fill!

    . . . All you need to do now is keep on flipping until you and all your family are nicely full!

    Maybe that's a few too many flippers for one person to handle.

    For more on why we are now calling pancakes ‘flippersclick here and if you like cooking there are even more recipes and tips on our Recipes page.

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    12. “Making learning fun is easy with Secret Seed Society”

    London Early Years Foundation see active play at the heart of the learning which takes place at their nurseries. This Spring their open days for parents focused on growing activities and they designed some fun workshops around the Secret Seed Society characters and online activities. Which you can try at home or at your nursery.

    LEYF open day

    During Henry Fawcett Open Day




    Every nursery received a boxset of Secret Seed Society Storybooks and Seeds. “The children were excited by the packaging and getting to unwrap their seed packet. They enjoyed the story and excitedly shouted out different vegetables and activities in the story.” Recounted Cat Wederell, who works at the Nursery at Marsham Street.

    4-pack-bundle


    “Children love the outdoors and are fascinated by things that grow. Exploring living things stimulates children’s creative thinking and instils a sense of awe and wonder. The books and seeds from the Secret Seed Society featuring vegetable characters are a great way to make learning fun.” June O’Sullivan, CEO London Early Years Foundation (LEYF)

    Painting vegetable masks

    Painting vegetable masks

    At Marsham Street Cat helped the children to grow their Chrissie Cress seeds “They kept an eye on their seeds, having a daily look. They were happy to try the cress after seeing me eat some, but were surprised with the taste! I will include it in sandwiches next time!!” .

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    13. What’s a propagator?

    Here’s some tips on propagating plants from seed from a workshop we ran for young growers at Cultivate Waltham Forest.

    My propagator

    A propagator creates the perfect conditions for growing vegetables from seeds, keeping the soil moist and the air warm. You can buy a propagator like this in our shop
    made out of recycled plastic and designed for re-use. You can craft a propagator out of a plastic food or drink container. By using a propagator your seedlings should be showing within a week.




    DSCF4479

    Make less mess and save on compost by holding your pots over the compost while you fill them.


    3 prop

    Lay your seeds out on top of your pots so that you know where you’ve planted. Label them before covering them with a layer of compost so you don’t end up double planting the same pot.


    helping pot

    Take the time to help younger growers learn how to do the simple tasks and then you can work as a team.


    dirty hands

    Don’t worry about getting your hands dirty, you can wash them later. Wearing an apron can help keep your clothes clean and give you something to wipe your hands on while your working.


    DSCF4500

    Growing vegetables together as a family is a great way to start eating more healthily. The curiosity and enthusiasm for cooking from scratch will stretch beyond the things that you grow.


    DSCF4532

    You can label the pots by cutting strips of plastic from yogurt pots or sticking card labels on cocktail sticks. Or if you want a surprise and are up for the challenge of trying to identify what you have grown in a weeks time don’t label them. Look at the leaf shapes and colours and see if you know what you have grown. Don’t be disappointed if it all looks like cress, lots of brassicas and leafy vegetables look very similar in the early stages.


    DSCF4525

    While taking it in turns and helping each other is important making up challenges like racing your brother to sprout a seedling first makes nurturing and tracking the progress of your plants even more exciting.


    dirty hands 1

    Remember to wash your hands after gardening and water your seeds regularly to keep the soil moist.

    Traffic Light Propagator CU

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    14. Tips to Start Growing in Spring

    Germination: is the process of a seed bursting open and sprouting into a plant. Most seeds take warmth as a sign to begin germinating. When you feel warm sun on your skin, think of your seeds. Whether they are in pots on windowsills or in the ground outside, they will be feeling the warmth too. Here’s Rudi Radishes tips on germinating indoors and outdoors…




    Making paper pots to give broad beans a good start

    Paper pots ready to plant the broad beans

    Germinating indoors:
    1. Use a propagator will keep the soil warm and moist, the perfect conditions for germinating seeds into seedlings.
    2. Homemade propagator, from upcycled packaging.
    3. Paperpots are cheap and easy to make.



    cover with upside cloche's

    Home-made cloche's

    Germinating outdoors:
    1. Before you plant your seeds, warm the soil by laying black polythene over the area you are planning to plant.
    2. When you plant your seeds, keep them warm and protected from hungry bugs by making a cloche or a mini-greenhouse. Here’s how to upcycle a plastic bottle into a mini-greenhouse.


    Freshly pulled radishes.

    Radishes take 8-10 weeks bo grow ready to eat


    Hello Seed Agents! Have you read my storybook, Bong, Bong, Bongity, Bong? It’s perfect for Spring, because I really know what it means to have a spring in my step, because I’ve got rhythm. My storybook comes with secret seeds to grow radishes! So you could be pulling bright pink radishes like these out of your veg patch this year.

    Happy growing!

    Rudi Radish




    Seeds for kids
    P.s. You can order a Secret Seed Society delivery to your door!

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    15. Make your own Vegetable Mask

    Make and wear masks of your favourite fruit and vegetable characters from Seed City. This is perfect for a crafty classroom activity, family fun on a rainy days or an arty birthday party.

    Albon Asparagus Mask

    Albon Mask top JPG

    Albon Asparagus Mask PDF



  • Skills: Observation and identification of vegetables. Colouring in and craft. Assembly of pieces.
  • Print out the PDFs to help you with your creation.
  • We recommend taking a look at the vegetable or fruit of the mask you are making to see the different textures and colours.
  • If you mount your mask on cardboard it will lasts longer and you can collage it in different materials.
  • Carla Carrot Mask Bunches JPG

    Carla Carrot Mask JPG

    Carla Carrot Mask PDF


    Sanghita Mask

    Sanghita Mask JPG

    Sanghita Spring Onion PDF

    Stella Strawberry Hat JPG

    Stella Strawberry JPG

    Stella Strawberry Mask PDF


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    16. Flipping all year long

    Today is Pancake Day! Also called Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday if you take part in Lent. It’s traditionally a day to eat up all sorts of yummy things in your house that you are promising not to eat during Lent, like chocolate. It’s a long month if you’re giving up your junkiest habit so first of all you need to eat a shed-load of pancakes.

    It’s strange people MAKE and EAT pancakes only one day a year.

    HOW ODD?! Why only eat such a great food one day out of 365? We must change this silliness once and for all.

    But how? …Time for a Seed Agent Mission.

    WHAT IF?! We rename pancakes Flippers! Every time we make a pancake we call it a Flipper. Everytime we eat a pancake we call it Flipper. Everytime we see a pancake we call it a Flipper. Soon the world will call pancakes – Flippers!! And then we can eat Flippers ALL year round, and not just on Fat Tuesday.

    There’s nothing that can’t be used to fill a flipper, sweet or savoury, hot or cold, the choice is yours Seed Agents! Try some veg-flippers! “Move along old-school lemon and sugar”, “Bye-bye gooey joys of chocolate”, “Hello pongy cheese, spinach and mushrooms!”

    Have a go at making your own flippers here and experiment eating them with different fillings. Discover which one you like best!

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    17. Seed Agents forage for blackberries.

    We are always pleased to get your photos. This is a photo of two Seed Agents, hard at work dodging the prickly brambles to forage blackberries from a hedge near where they live.

    Foraging means finding food in the wild. At different times of the year their are different things on offer in the wild.

    Picking food for free from the autumn hedgerow

    Delicious! Evie can not resist the blackberry taste.

     

     

    Have you foraged? if so please share your pics with us. send them to fun@secretseedsociety.com.


     

     

     

     Evie and Leila please take a picture of what you make with these luscious blackberries.

    These look ripe and juicy

    The bramble is scratchy but the fruit is luscious!

    Late Summer, early Autumn is the time to find blackberries, elderberries, crab apples, damsons and plums in the hedgerow.

     

    Mmmm delicious!

    Foraging in the autumn hedgerow.

     What will you make with what you pick?
    Evie spies some blackberries high up.

    Leila thinks there is enough already

     

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    18. Harry Birtwistle’s Magnificent Plum & Almond Cake


    Harry taught me to make a quick, easy and magnificently plum-packed cake while I was staying with him. It’s based on a Nigel Slater recipe but with twice as many plums as Nigel dares to put in. It’s a great recipe for fallen plums or for those just ripe because it hides the gooey bits and sweetens any tartness.


    Harry loves growing and cooking vegetables and he reminds me of Grandpa Swede because he’s wise and kind and a good teacher. This is a video of Harry in his garden and talking about composing music, you get a peek of the plum tree from which I picked the plums for this cake.




    In the UK plums ripen around August time. If you don’t have your own tree keep your eyes peeled for ones in public spaces, belonging to neighbours or friends. People are often overwhelmed by the quantity of plums they have and are grateful of help to eat them.



    Ingredients
    400g-600g fruit
    150g Sugar
    150g Oil (olive/ walnut/ sunflower)
    3 eggs
    110g spelt/ wholemeal flour
    90g ground almonds
    1.5 tsp baking powder



    Line an oven proof dish approx 20cm x 20cm with greaseproof paper.
    Warm oven to 180ºC.
    Collect about 30 plums, cut in half and remove stone.
    Beat the sugar, oil, eggs together by mixer or by hand.
    If you fancy adding a spice or essence this is your chance.



    In a separate bowl sieve together the flour, ground almonds and baking powder.
    Mix the wet mix into the dry mix.
    Pour into the baking tin.
    Push the fruit into the the cake mix. The plums will stick up out of the mix. Lean them on each other so that you can fit
    Cook for 30 mins then check and reduce to 160ºC for 10 mins.



    I think it will work with different fruits. I tried it with apples sprinkled in cinnamon and it was delicious too. Let me know what you try in the comments below. Thanks.

    Introduce a child you know to the joys of growing, cooking and eating vegetables through Secret Seed Society’s stories and seed packs..


    Great gift for young growers These storybooks are a great way to build up children’s confidence in recognising vegetables. The stories are particularly enjoyed by 3-8 year olds. Visit shop


    “Original, ethical and educational presents to be enjoyed by Children and grown-ups together. 5/5 rating from The Green Familia.Visit shop

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    19. Pumpkin fun for halloween and Thanksgiving

    Magically cook your Jack-O-lantern into some delicious meals. Prepare some wonderful food ready for Thanksgiving.

     

    Here’s some guidance on how to make 4 courses from your lantern. Every pumpkin is different so add your own flair!

    Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Scoop the goo and seeds out of the middle of the pumpkin into a colander.
  • Remove fleshy bits to leave seeds.
  • Rinse seed under tap to remove remaining goo.
  • Place in oven or frying pan with glug of oil, sprinkle or salt / soya sauce, ground black pepper.
  • They should be done in 10 minutes and ready to eat
  • Spiced Pumpkin Soup

    To serve 6. Keeps in fridge for 3 days or frozen.

    Put the following in a tray to roast in oven 180 degrees, till soft and golden, about 30mins:

  • 1kg of roughly chopped pumpkin
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 onions cut into quarters
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • Optional, if you have some windfall apples that need eating up, core and cut into quarter.
  • Put the following together and liquidise until desired smoothness:

  • Roasted goodies from above.
  • 2 pints of stock of your choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
  • Optional, if you like it creamy, add 200ml of tofu or creme fraiche.
  • Place in a saucepan and bring back to the boil

  • Serve with your own spooky crutons or toast.
  • Roast Tomato, Rosemary and Pumpkin Spaghetti

    To serve 4.

    Put the following in a tray to roast in oven 180 degrees, till soft and golden, about 30mins:

  • 1kg of roughly chopped pumpkin
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 16-20 small tomatoes, the last of your home grown ones.
  • 4 large sprigs of rosemary, lots of people have it growing in their garden, and it grows wild, so ask around to find your own friendly and free supply.
  • 2 red onions cut into rings
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • Caramelised Pumpkin Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt

    Serves 4-8. Store in freezer to eat another day

    Put the following in a tray to roast in oven 180 degrees, till soft and golden, about 30mins:

  • 1kg of roughly chopped pumpkin
  • A glug of sunflower oil
  • 2 Tbspoons of brown sugar
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon
  • Leave the pumpkin to cool then blend:

  • Roasted pumpkin.
  • 500ml of vanilla yogurt, plain yogurt or double cream.
  • 15 ice cubes
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    20. Seed Agent: Bodhi, 5 year old, from Massachusetts USA

    Bodhi the proud red pepper grower

    This is Bodhi, age 5, who lives in Falmouth, Massachusetts USA
    He likes to grow beans, radishes, cucumbers, and red peppers. Here is a pepper he picked just before it was completely red so that he could have it, and not share with a pesky squirrel..
    Bodhi loves to grow flowers too. These are some moon flowers that he tried for the first time this summer.

    Moonflowers

    Would you like to be one of our featured Seed Agents on Secretseedsociety.com? send us an email with a photo of you and what you have grown. Your name and a bit about what vegetables you like to grow. fun@secretseedsociety.com.

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    21. Helping Children garden up-close with a proagator.

    Propagators show children growing in a protected environment. This means more success and easier for them to understand. Also some crops like micro greens are ready to eat in a short time frame. Here is how to acquire and set up a propagator and what to use them for. 

    Planting seeds for germination in your propagator.

    Attractive re-cycled plastic windowsill propagator

    A. Why do I need a propagator? 

    A propagator is very useful for several things

    1. Starting seeds growing (germinating)

    2. Growing micro-greens

    3. Growing cuttings (bits off an already growing plant)

     

    B. How does it work? 

    A propagator traps moisture and prevents evaporation. It also shelters small plants from draughts.

     

    C. Making a propagator.

    Re-use the clear plastic containers that supermarkets use for selling everything from cakes to fruit.

     

    D. Buying a propagator. 

    They are readily available from garden stores but not that attractive for your windowsill.

    Buy a flower shaped propagator already complete with pots looks much prettier on your windowsill!

     

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    22. Germination of Mungbean

    This is so cool. Try it yourself with Mung beans, they are the speediest sprouts and within a few days you’ll see them change.
    ORDER Mingo Mungbean Story & Seed Pack for the ultimate jam jar growing experience.

    By Wjh31 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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    23. What will you cook with Green Tomatoes?

    Green Tomato Chutney, this is a delicious recipe.


    How many tomatoes?

  • Pick all the tomatoes that remain on the vines
  • Weigh them so you know whether to scale the recipe up or down.
  • Ingredients

  • 2.5kg green tomatoes chopped
  • 0.5kg finely chopped onion
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 250g of chopped sultanas or other dried fruit
  • 1L of vinegar
  • 0.5kg brown sugar
  • 3 tsp pepper
  • Options:

  • 4 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1-2 chillies
  • Cloves or ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • Cooking tips

  • There are two main things going on in this recipe. Firstly, there’s all the chopping. Secondly, there is the boiling. I’d recommend getting some help chopping, it can take a while to chop this many little, odd shaped tomatoes.
  • The vinegar, sugar, spices and dried fruits go into the pan first. Once the vinegar is hot and the sugar has melted.
  • Begin stirring in the chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic and chilli.
  • Overnight salting of tomatoes, allows you to drain some water out of the tomatoes. I think this is necessary if your tomatoes are very juicy it’s a good option. I didn’t have time to do this and I liked the consistency of the outcome so it is not vital.
  • Hot Jars, for preserving is key. Getting rid of any bacteria in the jar and providing a tight seal as the jars cool down.
  • Preserves are great to share and swap with friends and neighbours. Cramming the excess of today’s crop into jars for pleasure in the year to come.

    Great as gifts and to say thank you!

    I delivered the jars of chutney to some of my fellow vegetable growers from the Rhodes Estate, Dalston, to say thank you for helping to build the gardens this year.




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    24. How to grow microgreens with children

    Chrissie Cress, uncovers the latest fashion for microgreens and how easy it is to grow your own.
    What are Microgreens? Microgreens are leafy vegetables harvested when the stem and leaf are roughly 3-5cm high.
    How to grow Microgreens: Microgreens can be grown indoors, all year round. Some daylight is required. If you would like to grow something indoors without daylight try sprouting.


    Why use a propagator A propagator speeds up the germination and growth process by giving the seeds the perfect conditions of warmth and moisture. You’ll need to water them less and you’ll get faster growth.

    Make your own propagator by following the Upcycled Propagator Project using plastic containers.


    Order Kids Propagator Growing Kit with Stories and Seeds.
    Order Trio Propagator Set, without Stories and Seeds.


    Microgreens are easy to grow, as easy as growing cress
    “Nearly everyone has given growing cress a go. It’s often the first thing people try to grow as children. Kids are often creative with cress, growing it in egg shells with faces on, and on their granny’s carpet while grownups seem to have forgotten how good cress tastes with eggs at breakfast or in a summer salad. I recently noticed that grownups are secretly growing cress and serving it in restaurants and dinner parties by the name of Microgreens!” revealed Chrissie Cress.

    Different varieties of microgreens
    Mustard Cress
    Kale
    Endive
    Beetroot
    Carrot
    Spinach
    Radish
    Watercress
    Mizuna
    Peas



    Setting up your propagator for micro greens

    • Growing time 2-4 weeks.
    • Fill your pots with a light moist seed compost.
    • Avoid composts which contain peat, they aren’t good for the environment.
    • Scatter seeds densely in each pot.
    • For example seeds per 2cm pot: rocket 15, radish 10, peas 4.
    • Cover the seeds with compost and firm gently.
    • Water well.
    • Put on the lid and leave in a sunny place.
    • When they are 3-5cm tall cut from the stem.
    • To plant more, just sprinkle new seeds on top and cover with compost.



    Microgreens are nutritious, tasty and look cool on the plate.

    Order your reusable, recycled plastic, UK manufactured Secret Seed Society Propagator Kit!

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    25. Family Fun in Highgate Village

    Every Saturday there are theatre shows at Lauderdale House for the family. Looking out over London from Highgate Hill, this is a stunning building with gardens for you and the kids to explore.

    We performed our “What’s the Big Secret Show?”. Here’s the highlights.



    Our show’s really interactive and everyone gets a chance to be part of the show.

    Here’s the cabbages learning their move.



    Grandpa Swede was on hand to give tips on how to be a very strong cabbage in the allotment. It’s all in the curve of the arms.


    Everyone playing their part in Grandpa Swede’s allotment.


    Dancing like runner beans.


    Dancing like onions.


    Tommy P.Tato was playing some next level beats on the synth.


    And we finally let the secret out of the suitcase and now there are more young vegetable growers in Highgate than ever before.

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