innocent GIY Sow & Grow Schools Campaign

innocent GIY Sow & Grow Schools Campaign: Promoting wellness and developing food empathy in children by giving them a food growing experience at school.

Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Research shows that when children grow some of their own food, they gain a deeper understanding of food, which leads to increased knowledge of nutrition, and long term dietary and wellbeing improvements. The innocent GIY Sow & Grow schools campaign gives up to 100,000 children a simple classroom food-growing experience to develop food empathy and promote wellbeing.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Across the EU, children are challenged by a lifestyle that discourages physical activity and encourages the consumption of unhealthy food. As a result, our children have a much-increased risk of developing food-related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. They are also likely to have a shortened life expectancy. It is essential to find innovative ways of encouraging children to develop a deeper understanding of the connections between food, nutrition and wellbeing.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Food growing helps children acquire a deeper understanding of food and develop healthier eating habits. Studies show that food growing children are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables (Bell & Dyment, 2008), show higher levels of knowledge about nutrition (Koch, Waliczek, & Zajicek, 2006) and are more likely to continue healthy eating habits throughout their lives (Morris & Zidenberg-Cherr, 2002). The Sow & Grow campaign engages children with simple classroom food growing experiments. Schools are provided with planting cups, seeds and teacher resources. The simplicity ensures it can be done by any school (regardless of whether they have a garden) or by any teacher (regardless of growing experience).
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The innocent GIY Sow & Grow campaign harbors an interest not only in growing vegetables and plants but also in healthy and more sustainable eating. According to feedback from teachers that participated in the campaign, the children also become enthusiastic about trying new foods, because they have been involved in growing them. Miss Forde, a teacher at St. Kevin’s Girls National School in Kilnamanagh, Dublin, who participated in the programme in 2013 says that many of the girls involved are now growing their own food at home. “In terms of nutrition,” she says, “the students involved became enthusiastic in trying new foods and took the opportunity to taste new vegetables that they had not tried previously.”

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

There is incredible demand to participate in the Sow & Grow campaign. This year, all 20,000 kits were snapped up by schools within 2-3 days. Every year, demand for the kits far outstrips available supply. We believe that making participation in the programme free of charge for schools ensures that it is accessible to schools in disadvantaged areas. Our challenge therefore is to investigate ways we can make this programme available to every class that wants to participate in every school in Ireland, and indeed throughout the EU. What funding and logistics model could we use to achieve this, and what collaboration partners could we work with? For 2015 we are investigating adding additional partners to the Sow & Grow collaboration, from the public and philanthropic sectors, and perhaps from crowd funding.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

In Ireland, an organisation called Agriaware were distributing growing kits to schools, funded by the agribusiness sector. Their programme distributed raised beds to schools to develop their own school garden. GIY's Sow & Grow programme was designed to allow any school to take part even if they didn't have space for growing. Agriaware have more recently transitioned away from distributing kits, towards making curriculum plans available to teachers for download. The focus is on creating knowledge about the farming sector, as opposed to knowledge about growing food yourself.


GIY is a multi-award winning social enterprise with a proven track record at generating system change. innocent is a global leader in getting healthy, natural food and drinks to as many places as possible. The senior management teams in both organisations (including GIY founder Michael Kelly and innocent Ireland manager Tim Casey) have been heavily involved in helping to plan, promote and execute the programme each year. Brendan Smartt, Country Manager of innocent drinks in 2013 said: “The campaign is the one I am most proud of since I took over the Irish business in 2007. It was a locally developed idea that worked because both the team at innocent and GIY worked extremely hard to make the most of it.” The programme has also involved a celebrity campaign patron, TV chef and author Donal Skehan to generate media and social media interest.
About the Lead Co-Creation Partners
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social enterprise, registered charity

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Project Summary
Co-Creation Model: Tell us about your main strategic partners and how the partnership truly create value. For each Partner please include its type (business/social/public), its name, a short description, its key motivation to participate in the co-creation project, and the key contributions it is making in the co-creation project. Please follow the format displayed below:

Social Enterprise
GIY is an emerging global network of over 50,000 people who grow some of their own food at home, in schools, workplaces and the community.

GIY’s key motivation is to increase the number of people, and particularly, children growing their own food and gaining food empathy.

GIY provided the vision and context, as well as horticultural knowledge, and the sowing kits. We are also able to spread the word via the GIY community and our traditional and social media outlets.

Innocent drinks
innocent is Europe’s favourite smoothie company selling natural healthy products in 15 countries and employing over 250 people across Europe.

The Sow & Grow campaign links with innocent's values of being natural, sustainable and generous. innocent’s three main aims are getting healthy, natural food and drinks to as many places as possible, pushing harder for better social and environmental standards in business and supporting the activities of the innocent foundation.

innocent have made a multi-annual investment to fund the campaign. They have also created an online platform to facilitate engagement from schools and promoted the campaign to their sizeable social media network.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact. Please specify using qualitative and quantitative data (e.g. # of indirect and direct beneficiaries); help us understand how this solution truly makes a difference.

We have reached 60,000 children with free Sow & Grow kits since the launch of the campaign in 2012. Each year the kits are distributed to approximately 650 primary schools in Ireland, with each school receiving 30 individual planting cups and seeds.

Led by their teacher and planting guides from GIY, the children sow the seeds in the cups in the classroom, with the teacher typically weaving the lesson in to the curriculum. In many cases the children then bring the planting cups home so that they can experience the joy of food growing with their families. The schools are encouraged and incentivized to engage with the programme website, blogging and uploading photos and videos of their experiments.

In the immediate term we aim to get 100,000 children growing their own food for the first time as part of the programme in Ireland.

Funding: How is your project financial supported? [select all that apply]


Sustainability Plan: Has your project already reached financial sustainability? If not, what is this solutio’s plan to ensure financial sustainability? Do the main partners have enough stake to sustain the solution? If this project requires limited budget, how will other resources be secured to maintain or grow this work?

The project is sustainable at the level it currently operates at, in so far as we are confident that potential sponsors will continue to be interested in funding it at this level. It should be possible in theory to work with a partner such as innocent that operates at an EU-wide level, to roll the project out to other countries. However, expanding beyond 20-25,000 children per country per annum would be challenging using sponsorship only.

Our challenge therefore is to come up with ways to scale beyond this level of impact and make the kits available to any schools that need them - this will require additional stakeholders, for e.g. public sector or EU funding, philanthropic investment or crowd/match funding. We are currently conducting research with schools to see if schools or parents would pay a small fee per child to take part.

Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the Partners to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

GIY founder Michael Kelly was in the local supermarket doing the weekly shop, and absentmindedly about to throw a net of garlic in the trolley when he noticed that it said “Product of China” on the label. Despite having no experience or knowledge of food growing, Michael decided to grow his own garlic. That started him on a journey to home-grown food heaven which had a huge impact on his health and the health of his family. He established GIY to inspire and support other people to grow their own food. GIY and innocent's 'a-ha' moment was the realisation that a mass movement of amateur food growers can actually be good for business - since food growers make for more knowledgeable and more 'food empathetic' consumers who buy healthier food, and consume more fruit and vegetables.

About the Co-Creation
Barriers: What main barriers may you have encountered to co-create during the creation and implementation of the project and how did you try to overcome them?

A key barrier for any food company that GIY engages with is this: if people grow their own food, is it not bad for business? By encouraging people to grow their own, are we not reducing the number of people who buy food? In our initial engagements, our approach with innocent was to emphasise that most people do not seek to grow ALL their own food. They grow some of their own food, and as a result of the food empathy they gain in that process, when they do buy food they tend to make healthier choices. They buy more fruit and vegetables, they buy more seasonal, local and organic food. This was a breakthough for both parties. The idea of food empathy gave us a conceptual approach to highlight that food growing can be good for business - particularly if that business is selling healthy food.

Governance: What is the type of the relationship between the partners? (e.g. joint venture, contractual relationship, joint project...)

The relationship is a joint project, with a letter of commitment outlining the terms and commitments, signed by both parties at the start of each year.

Interaction model: How is the project a transformative partnership? How is the interaction transforming the partnering organizations and their employees/ leadership in terms of creating a new vision, new management practices, new skills and new organizational structures? Please provide for concrete examples

The Sow & Grow campaign has led GIY and innocent to co-create the concept of food empathy. It’s the idea that when you grow your own food at any level, you develop a deeper understanding of food which has an impact in other areas of your life. This has been a breakthough for GIY and innocent, giving us a conceptual framework to understand how helping people to grow food can also create healthier and more knowledgeable consumers. Food empathy is now a guiding strategic principle for GIY and at the core of all our campaigns, events and activities. In the same way, it has helped innocent to see food growing as an opportunity for their business as opposed to a threat.

How did you find out about this competition?

Ashoka Ireland