Can kids keep bees?

They’re not exactly the most usual school pet, requiring considerable knowledge and skills, some specialist equipment, not to mention the careful handling – but the learning opportunities are as bountiful and delectable as the honey!

Wyberton Primary Academy near Boston shows us how it’s done, with a little help from Willoughby Road Allotment Association.

The School Bee Keepers

Year five – Mrs Hodgson’s class – is the school beekeeping class.

This allows all the children to have their turn at this very special experience as they grow through the school. 

There’s also an after school bee club for those who just can’t get enough of it during curriculum hours!

Children wearing bee keeping protective equipment

Because the school has this very rich educational resource right on site, teaching and learning about bees is threaded throughout their curriculum and school life – from the biology of flowers to the sale of their very own honey at school fairs.

You can also buy Wyberton’s school honey at the local co-op – food miles don’t even come into it!

The bees have been on the site and in the curriculum for five years, and they have become part of the life of the school.

Can Kids Grow Food?

But that is not all: whereas school vegetable gardens can be notoriously short lived and over-reliant on a few volunteers, Wyberton’s school garden is becoming similarly embedded in school life.

school vegetable garden

The year two class have four vegetable beds. This small growing project has partnered with Willoughby Road allotment association, who have provided them with plug plants and seeds, and invited the class for visits to their allotment site.

It is a real asset to have Willoughby allotments nearby – they’re a particularly family- and community oriented allotment association, with accessible toilets on site, plenty of smaller plots available – because “everyone’s lives are different” – lots of support to those new to growing, and an enthusiasm to work with local schools.

“We want children to appreciate where their food comes from – from the ground, and not just a shelf in Asda. It’s gone down really well. The children go home and tell their parents about it!”

Paul Collingwood, Willoughby Road Allotment Association
Child filling plant pots with compost
child watering plants
Children around school vegetable beds

The children have contributed to Boston in Bloom, as well as grown their own veggies, and there’s also an after-school gardening club (soon to be re-started following a pause due to Covid restrictions).

The school’s successful growing space and pioneering beekeeping has been driven by the passion and dedication of teachers, with help from the local allotment association. 

Wyberton is a shining example of how growing in school can be done – and done well in the long term – when it is integrated with the curriculum.

Happy smiling children in school garden

Has your school succeeded in embedding healthy food growing into the lives of school children? Please get in touch – we’d love to hear about it!

There’s also some excellent support available, including the Soil Association’s Food for Life programme. It’s currently £199+VAT for your first year – and you can expect a £3 social ROI on every pound spent; and by the way, Food for Life Schools are twice as likely to be rated Outstanding. Get in touch if you’d like a 10% discount code for the scheme.

More Lincolnshire Food news from our blog:

Willoughby Road Allotment Association: The Power of Allotments for Community, Kindness and Learning

Allotments are often sites of surprising diversity, community, wellbeing and intergenerational connection. But the people of Willoughby Road Allotment Association have taken this to a whole new level, and show the incredible capacity for allotment spaces to bring diverse communities together, and to propagate kindness! I spoke with Paul Collingwood and Gerry Ladds, who areContinue reading “Willoughby Road Allotment Association: The Power of Allotments for Community, Kindness and Learning”

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Mrs Smith: a Low Waste Inspiration

Guest blog by Sally Bird

Lincolnshire resident, Mrs Smith (1892-94) can teach us a huge amount about sustainable living, local food and minimising waste.

Mrs Smith lived in the village of Navenby for most of her 102 year life.

She owned a small cottage in the village, this cottage changed very little since the 1930s and she held onto her old fashioned way of life right up until she passed away.

Mrs Smith’s Cottage

While she had electricity in the cottage she never had a fridge, freezer, or washing machine, all of her hot water and heating came from the range in the kitchen.

The cottage is now a museum, run by North Kesteven District Council, which tells the story of Mrs Smith’s remarkable life.

With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund the cottage has been restored and is reopening on the 21st of May 2021. 

Mrs Smith lived a very low waste lifestyle, even without the modern technology we rely on she was able prevent food waste and she made sure to use any items she owned until they had completely worn out. 

Mrs Smith’s pantry

At the cottage today we are looking to bring Mrs Smith’s traditional knowledge back to life, with talks and group tours exploring how the pantry would have been managed and how she would have grown and processed produce.

Learning from Mrs Smith in this way we can work towards living our everyday lives much more sustainably. 

Mrs Smith’s Cottage is closed at the moment however we are taking bookings on our website: Meanwhile, you can learn more about Mrs Smith’s Kitchen via our online exhibition, video tours, and see what events are coming up here.

If you’re interested in volunteering at Mrs Smith’s Cottage garden, or sowing seeds ready for planting, or to raise money at the annual plant sale, find out more here.

Mrs Smith by her range

Make it: Mrs Smith’s Apple Chutney

With an apple tree in her garden Mrs Smith spent many hours in the autumn making chutney and  other preserves, make sure not to waste any of the apples she collected. This recipe was collected from Mrs Smith and is firm favourite amongst our volunteer team.


  • 1kg apples peeled and chopped 
  • 500g onions finely chopped
  • 500g sultanas 
  • 400g dates chopped  
  • 500g soft brown sugar
  • 500ml white wine vinegar
  • 2tsp mustard 
  • 1tsp mixed spice 
  • 1tsp powdered cloves 
  • 1tsp salt 
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper to taste


1. Place all ingredients in a large heavy  bottomed pan and cook gently until sugar has dissolved. 

2. Bring to the boil and then simmer until fruit has softened. 

3. Stir occasionally and continue to simmer  until the mixture is the consistency of Jam.

4. When ready pour mixture into warm sterilised jars and seal. 

Makes approximately 6-8 jars. Enjoy!

We welcome Mrs Smith’s Cottage as our newest Food Partner – we have a huge amount to learn from Mrs Smith about sustainable living, and the lost arts of food growing, preserving and cooking.

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HMP North Sea Camp

Farms need people.

Fewer EU workers and the Covid-19 pandemic have left a gaping hole in the number of agricultural land workers.

HMP North Sea Camp – a men’s open prison on the Lincolnshire coast – provides training and work experience to prisoners, including agricultural, horticultural and other food-related work.

This presents a particular opportunity for Lincolnshire employers in the food and farming sector to contribute powerfully to the future of prison leavers as well as increasing the safety of our communities in the future.

Four things I’ve learnt – and a question

Here are four things I’ve learnt from being with Lincolnshire Food Partnership for slightly over a year – enough time to start thinking a little bit differently about things – and a question for those of you who have given your time, money, energy or anything else to a foodbank in the past year.

Getting your hands dirty is transformative

“I was so ill, I could hardly do anything, I could hardly look after my kids. And the allotment turned everything around. It was just me and the soil.”

Kirsty, My Little Allotment

There’s probably more to be said about this as a metaphor, but I’m referring to the dirty that involves chatting to the worms, the smell of earth and ripening tomatoes in a greenhouse, soil under the fingernails, and a feeling of well hungry by tea time. 

Last year I wrote a series of blogs about allotment growing, intending to encourage more people to give it a go. 

Turns out that was hardly needed – you can’t get an allotment across most of Lincoln for love nor money, and once again the seed companies are inundated with orders, water butts and gardening gloves are flying off the (online) shelves, social media gardening groups are exploding, and the nation is having a GYO renaissance!

But the transformation story keeps cropping up, again and again – of people crashing, their mental health in pieces on the floor. But by interacting with nature and earth, sowing seeds, tending the soil, harvesting the fruit, they recover something lost, and become whole again.

Read moreMy Little Allotment

Watch the recording – Jayne Hickling, Growing in Schools

What else? – the relevance and scope for Care Farming in Lincolnshire.

The good food economy is a shared endeavour

“People working within the food system need to feel differently about their role within society… It’s not about them and us; it’s about everyone supporting each other. Let’s stop talking about “supporting local” as if it’s shoppers doing a favour, and be more aware of our shared, co-operative endeavours.”

Kimberley Bell, Small Food Bakery

The tenacity, resilience and imagination of Lincolnshire’s independent food sector through the lockdown has blown me away! I take my hat off every day to the people – you can find many of them on Lincoln Indie Takeaways – turning out to provide us with good food and keep us connected to local growers, despite the personal risk, and additional complications and responsibilities. 

This hasn’t been possible for everyone – for many businesses there has been no way through the pandemic, many have been crippled by unpayable rents, family responsibilities, illness, isolation or shielding, slipping through the gaps in support, and faced other impossible circumstances.

But in many cases, local food has been immensely resilient, big hearted and deeply connected to their communities – these are just a few examples:

We’ve seen Louth’s Serendipity Restaurant transform into community kitchens, cooking and delivering food to those who need it during a pandemic, with support from local businesses, farmers and others; and Castle Hotel in Lincoln repurposed their kitchen to produce free meals for NHS workers.

Doddington Hall Farm Shop started the delightfully subversive “chat and collect” service, so shoppers could still talk to a person and retain at least a degree of social interaction with their grocer.

Weirdough’s Pizza emerged at the start of the pandemic as a back garden fundraising project, but transformed into a growing business, helping people all the way; Bread & Cheese sells what it says on the tin, but outdoors from a van, while Lincoln’s indie bread and cheese shops have repeatedly had to close. Others, like Bailgate Deli, Veg Out and Curry Jacks, keep our connection with local growers and Lincolnshire produce alive.

Lincolnshire’s first CSA, which was born out of conversations over eggs, is in its infancy and is already a market garden to behold, with a huge amount of love and support from local people, and is providing a model for what could be done in the county!

It’s pretty evident from the social media feeds of these good food businesses how appreciative they are of their communities and customers. You and I – we’re not helpless little consumers to be manipulated by the big boys, we’re food citizens together, building the food economies we want and need.

Food citizenship is a concept that has inspired me since I first read about it in the process of creating the Mission & Aims page on our website nearly a year ago, and the more I learn, the more relevant I find it. Learn more here.

“The real reason we started (Curry Jacks) is because of you. Because we believe that listening to people’s stories over a plate of something tasty is the single most endlessly fascinating thing anyone can do. People who have travelled and people who have stayed at home. People’s huge disasters and tiny triumphs. The hurdles people have faced and how they’ve handled them. We love all of those stories. So this is a thank you to all of you who’ve shared parts of your lives or thoughts with us over the last three years! (And here’s to times ahead when we can sit over a meal together again.)”

Curry Jacks Facebook page

Intergenerational friendship matters

The allotment holders I spoke to over the course of last year all – all! – had an adult in their lives who introduced them to gardening as children, even though they came to GYO and allotment-holding as adults. This is a message for everyone with children in their lives. 

While there’s no place for the patronising sexism some young women allotment holders I’ve spoken to have experienced on their allotment site, it’s also very clear that many older allotment holders have a lot of knowledge to pass on. 

And there’s a generation of enthusiastic new growers who could save themselves – hang on, I speak for myself here – we could save ourselves a ton of spudding around making mistakes if we spent more time with our elders. People like Geoff & Hillary whose Lincoln allotment sparked the blog series, passed on to me knowledge, ideas and quantities of beans disproportionate to the time I spent with them!

The value of sharing food with a child was brought home to me by Kim Smith – she outlines how to go about introducing foods to children using the TastEd approach. The opportunity to explore a big variety of foods in an unpressured way at a young age sets people up for a lifetime with a healthily diverse diet. 

And there are benefits of doing this away from the table and the people who normally do the cooking – and I think many other parents would testify, our kids will eat all manner of things with other people that they wouldn’t eat at home! 

About a decade ago, when I was working in Early Years Education, Sue Palmer (author of Toxic Childhood, and big hero of mine) asserted, in the face of huge paranoia over stranger danger – not only that adults shouldn’t stop talking to children, but that we all have a duty to talk to them. And in the past year, I would definitely extend this to eating and gardening with the children in our lives!

Recipe box from Veg Out

I’ve seen children eating purple sprouting broccoli straight off the plant who would never eat it on a plate; competing to see who could eat the most sorrel leaves without pulling a face; running to wash and eat a carrot that was just pulled from the ground; gaping with amazement at an apple cut sideways to reveal the pips in a star shape, or the luminous inside of an aubergine under that dark skin. 

Children can’t discover this sort of thing in their own spontaneous play; it is something they need adults in their lives to introduce them to. Let that be us!

Solidarity is on the rise

The rise in foodbank use in the past year is well documented – though shocking, I won’t write about it here – and is matched only by the rise in the community spirit that has risen up to meet this need. 

You can get an impression of the scale of this by taking a scroll through our Find a Foodbank page – which we continue to add to; and I am in no doubt that there are more that are springing up and/or taking place under our radar, as well as an abundance of local initiatives that don’t conform to the term foodbank. It is the most read page on our website, and Foodbank is the most used search term to reach us.

Informal neighbourhood groups, online communities, churches, schools and more have stepped up, and existing foodbanks have massively increased their provision in response to the circumstances, and the urgency of the need that emerged from it. 

The pandemic has unleashed a force of humanity to be seriously reckoned with.

Which led me to wonder…

What would we do differently if we didn’t need foodbanks?

When I was asked recently what it would mean to build back better, my first response was that we need to address (that is, eliminate) poverty, as quickly as possible. 

What would happen if we had, for example, a Universal Basic Income, or Universal Basic Services, or sufficient national investment in jobs, training, a green recovery, etc, or whatever it was that achieved a removal of poverty, the inside circle of doughnut economics? 

It’s a bit of a thought experiment – it’s not apparent on the current political agenda – but supposing poverty was addressed, radically, and on a national scale – what would happen then?

If the gruelling, debt-burdened, humiliating level of poverty that gives rise to foodbanks was eliminated: what would happen to all that energy and solidarity? 

What would all those people accessing foodbanks, and/or involved in running them, do? 

Maybe you’re one of them – what would you do differently if you could reclaim the time/money you give to foodbanks, or the debt/anxiety/insecurity/etc that might accompany the need to access one? 

The human energy saved would be colossal!

Would everyone return to the backlog of household jobs, a bit more social media scrolling, catching up on some holidays? Or would we all get a taste for community building, or a vision for a better food system that everyone could access? 

Once the community larder became defunct, would people open a real independent local cafe in their community, now that everyone could afford it? Or start a CSA or care farm having recognised the health benefits and resilience of real local food? Or start to demand a far less wasteful system than is, perhaps, inherent to supermarkets?

What would you do without foodbanks? If you’ve ever been to one, I’m curious to know.

Laura Stratford, 2021

The Inkpot – a permaculture farm in Lincolnshire

How does permaculture address the big challenges of our times – from the climate and ecological crises, to the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities? Hannah Thorogood – a permaculture designer and senior UK Permaculture teacher – farms 100 acres (without a tractor). Her land and farming practices embody a mindset of abundance –Continue reading “The Inkpot – a permaculture farm in Lincolnshire”

Volunteer Opportunities in Lincoln: Van Drivers

FareShare Midlands works throughout the region to fight hunger and tackle food waste. The economic fallout from the pandemic has exacerbated food poverty across our region. As a result, our operations have significantly increased to meet this need. Van Driver FareShare is looking for more people to join existing volunteer team as a van driverContinue reading “Volunteer Opportunities in Lincoln: Van Drivers”

The All Party Parliamentary Group on the National Food Strategy

The APPG on the National Food Strategy, chaired by Jo Gideon, MP for Stoke on Trent, had its fourth meeting on  25th May to consider the way in which part 2 of the National Food Strategy might embrace the development of urban food systems, the support for rural communities, and how ‘good food’ jobs might be developed. The LFP was there.   ItContinue reading “The All Party Parliamentary Group on the National Food Strategy”

Doddington Farm Shop & Cafe

Veg exchange scheme, chat & collect, independent takeaway… our newest Food Partner, Doddington Farm Shop, has been doing loads through lockdown to keep providing  people with fresh local food, and keeping human interaction alive despite everything.

Local, seasonal produce

Doddington Farm Shop

Opened in 2007, the Farm Shop at Doddington Hall was born out of a passion for good quality, seasonal, local food.

You’ll find fruit and vegetables with zero food miles freshly picked from the Kitchen Garden, beef in the Butchery often from the Estate herd of Lincoln Red cattle, Doddington honey and an abundance of produce from local suppliers, including Maud Foster flour and Hambletons meat.

Bike Shop Cafe, coffee shop and afternoon tea service resume outdoors from 12th April!

Vegetable Exchange Scheme

Allotment holders and home-growers will love their veg exchange scheme – they accept surplus home-grown veg in exchange for shop vouchers (by prior arrangement – details on their website).

Cycle path from Lincoln

We love that Doddington Farm Shop and Cafe are accessible from Lincoln by bike – along a car free cycle path – countryside cycling all the way!

The Bike cafe at Giant Store is open for takeaway – they’re listed on LincolnIndieTakeaways.

Chat & Collect*

*This was a lockdown service that has now come to an end

Lockdown has seen the rise of Chat & Collect – a friendly subversion of Click n Collect!

Customers – primarily the non-techy generation! – phone up and have a conversation with an actual person(!) who can talk about what’s available without needing to go online, and take an order over the phone.

The team get the shopping ready and bring to out to your car for collection – the whole thing is contactless.

The number is: 01522 688581, the line is open daily 9.30am-3.30pm with collection slots available Monday-Friday.

We’re very happy to welcome Doddington Farm Shop as Food Partners – and applaud all that fresh, healthy food, with minimal food miles and short supply chains!

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‘Milk’ back on the doorstep

I wonder how many times during this past year I just had to go to the shop because our household had run out of ‘milk’? 

Feeling overwhelmed by the number of Tetrapaks piling up in our recycling bin every week I searched again for a company that would deliver plant based milk to our door. 

Success at last! It is now possible to get a delivery of standard dairy milk, organic milk and oat milk in Lincolnshire. Happily for us the oat milk is produced in the UK in Lancashire.

There is a useful website for finding a company that can deliver to you here: Find Me a Milk Delivery

Dairy milk & plant based milk

A large proportion of households are now multi-’milk’ consumers with members of the same household preferring to use different types of ‘milk’. 

This delivery service could help households avoid those unnecessary emergency trips to the shop as well as enabling them to easily do more towards protecting our environment.

The cost of the products delivered to your door is significantly higher than purchasing from a shop, so we imagine that will be a debate for every household.

Shrinking the carbon footprint of milk

Most companies delivering milk in glass bottles offer a ‘rinse and return’ policy. The re-use of glass bottles significantly reduces the carbon footprint of the product.

Milk processing plants have improved bottle cleaning facilities which means that each bottle will be re-used more than 20 times.

We have not yet found any major food stores stocking milk or plant based milk in glass bottles which you can then return for re-use.

It is true that the dairy industry is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels for delivery.  In spite of this, purchasing milk in plastic or tetra paks from a store can be more damaging to the environment.

The recycling of Tetra Paks is difficult due to layers of plastic and aluminium in the packaging, although packaging designers are striving to produce a carbon neutral version of this ever popular container.

HDPE containers used to distribute the largest proportion of dairy milk in the UK are easily recycled if they get into the recycling chain and do not end up in landfill.  An HDPE bottle can take up to 100 years to degrade

“Around 3% of the UK’s fresh milk is delivered directly to the doorstep by milkmen and women.*”

Dairy UK *This figure is for dairy milk alone.

Ticky Nadal, March 2021

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