The Food Revolution is all about inspiring and engaging the next generation to get cooking, learn about real food and vote with their forks, and that’s exactly what’s taking place through the ‘Seeds of Change’ project in Northern England.

“We are really excited to be part of the food revolution, especially working with young people in an often overlooked age group. Our project is based at Wilberforce College, a sixth form college that serves about 1500 young people aged between 16 and 19 who live in East Hull and surrounding areas. The health of people in our community has historically been worse than in other parts of the UK. The good news is that our students know something about this and are planning on living longer, healthier lives! In a recent highly representative college wide survey we found that:

  • over 80% of our students would like to eat a more healthy diet
  • 60% want to lose weight
  • 65% would like to be more physically active

With the demand clearly identified we are making this change happen – now. Our belief at the Seeds of Change project is that being healthy and living strong comes from reconnecting young minds with where real food comes from- the ground up!

We are working hard to inspire as many members of the Wilberforce community as we can to take hold of this initiative and grow a Wilberforce-wide collaborative project. To do this we are developing an ‘edible campus’ that encourages our community of learners to see their food literally growing before their eyes, little by little, day by day. By creating a colourful, imaginative and engaging environment we are making healthy food appealing to urban, streetwise youth.

As with anything worthwhile, the hardest part is getting started. We did this in Easter 2015, by turning a piece of grass by the staff car park into ‘F Block Orchard’. We picked these apple and pear trees up from a discount supermarket for a few quid each – bargain! 

Later that year we launched our project to the whole college in style, by commissioning local graffiti artist ‘Si2’. With his assistance we created a display that showcased our ideas and expressed our ambition. The display featured fruit, vegetables and herbs growing out of bits and bobs that were either begged, borrowed or found. Two highlights included an upcycled filing cabinet filled with chilli plants and an old delivery pallet converted into a Mediterranean herb planter. We are continuing to work with Si2 to help create an interesting, fun and youthful vibe. His graffiti art helped launch Hull’s successful bid for the 2017 City of Culture and his latest designs can be found on the bus shelter outside our college.

Following on from our opening exhibition, we identified a second piece of land that we could cultivate and turn into a food production area. We called this location ‘Base Camp’, like mountaineers setting off on an uphill trek towards the summit of a mountain, climbing this simile as a metaphor for the improved food choices we are aiming to elevate.

Central to our project is the cooperative pizza company we are setting up to inspire an entrepreneurial spirit that engages with the idea of creating a proactive healthier community. Our pizzas will be topped with fresh produce grown right here on Wilberforce College campus, where we will be emphasising a vegetarian ethos. In doing so we will stimulate a mindful internal college market where food production and growth are reintegrated in young minds. This way our students will be at the heart of growing, producing and promoting the finger licking great taste of fresh pizza.

What is truly amazing about the Seeds of Change project is that project co-founder Jill Naylor and I have gained so much support from departments across the college. There are now embedded elements of the project in Art and Design, Foundation, Health and Caring and Performing Arts (Dance). Art and Design students have put together some thoughtful designs which encapsulate our ambitions to spread the word and make the college grounds a brighter place, Foundation students are responsible for clearing, digging and planting many of our crops, the Health and Caring Department are busy putting together a sensory garden based and Performing Arts students have even created a Seeds of Change Dance!

So as you can see what we are talking about here is not just food, it’s a food REVOLUTION.”

About Tim Blackburn

Tim Blackburn has been teaching A level Sociology at Wilberforce College for the past decade. It is with a degree of sensitivity that he teaches some of the most economically deprived youth in the UK about theories of health inequality. As a Sociology teacher with young adults, he is more than aware of the importance of peer group pressure. With this in mind they are creating a peer group powered grassroots movement. Of course none of this would be possible without the help and support of staff across the Wilberforce College community. He is proud to work with such committed people in this forward looking community sixth form college. Together they are outstanding!