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Slow food

Growing your own will convert you

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To show that slow food can be every bit as delicious as fast food.

Preparation and materials

  • Collect some interesting vegetables, including a carrot, a courgette and a tomato.
  • Gather information on growing your own vegetables from
  • You will also need one reader.
  • Choose a harvest song or hymn to sing at the end of the assembly.


  1. Ask your reader to read the following poem.

    Fast food

    Cheeseburger and chips. Mmm.
    Fish and chips. Mmm.
    Chicken nuggets and chips. Mmm.
    Place an order.
    Ready in an instant.
    A meal in a bag to go.

    Happy meals. Happy, happy meals.
    Delicious food we are happy to eat.
    Yummy food to make us smile.

    Pepperoni pizza. Mmm.
    Sweet and sour pork. Mmm
    Chicken korma and rice. Mmm
    Pick up the phone.
    A ring of the bell.
    Takeaway food at the door.

    Happy meals. Happy, happy meals.
    Delicious food we are happy to eat.
    Yummy food to make us smile.

    Noodles in a pot. Mmm.
    A frozen ready meal. Mmm.
    Baked beans from a tin. Mmm.
    Click the kettle on.
    Zap in the microwave.
    A TV dinner placed on your lap.

    Happy meals. Happy, happy meals.
    Delicious food we are happy to eat.
    Yummy food to make us smile.

  2. Leader Most of us would agree that fast food is delicious. Takeaway meals are so very tasty. Instant meals are so quick and easy to make. The boy in our story today is no different from most of you. Let me tell you his story.

  3. Leader Read the following story. Change Joe and Mr Robinson’s names to suit your school demographic if you wish.

Slow food

Joe was a pretty ordinary young boy. He loved football. He hated homework. He loved fast food. He hated vegetables.

‘Come on, Joe,’ his mum would say in her most persuasive voice. ‘Eat up your vegetables. You know they are good for you. They will make you big and strong.’

‘No, I won’t!’ Joe would say in his most stubborn voice. ’I will never eat vegetables. They taste horrible and are so boring – and they are nearly all green. I hate green! I love burgers and chips and pizza. Why can’t you give me something I like?’

Joe and his mum would act out a version of this conversation almost every day. Occasionally, Joe would get fish and chips as a treat. He would get fast food at birthday parties. Normally, though, his mum would insist on putting vegetables on his plate and Joe would insist on leaving them untouched in a little pile.

One day, Mr Robinson stood up at the end of assembly and invited the children to join the allotment club he was starting. Joe was interested. He liked spending time with Mr Robinson. He enjoyed being outside and was attracted to the idea of getting his hands dirty. He didn’t know what the allotment club would do, but he might as well give it a go. Joe signed up.

A couple of months’ later, Joe came running out of school towards his mum with an enormous carrot in his hand. Up to that point, he had been very secretive about what he had been doing at the allotment club. Now he wanted to tell the world.

‘Mum! Mum! Look at what I dug up today! Mr Robinson planted some seeds last year and we have been looking after the ground and pulling up weeds and protecting the plants from pests and  . . . ’ Joe paused to draw a deep breath. ‘THIS IS MY CARROT!’

Joe’s mum was suitably impressed. ’It’s lovely, darling. Very dirty and long and orange, but what are you going to do with it?’

Joe looked at his mum as if she was mad. ’Well, eat it of course!’

Mum was confused. ’But it’s a vegetable. You don’t eat vegetables.’

Joe tried to explain. ’This is not just any vegetable. This is my vegetable. This is my carrot and I am going to eat it.’

After eating that first carrot, Joe’s life changed.

He started to visit Granddad Booth’s allotment. He measured the shoots as they slowly pushed their way out of the ground. He kept a diary of the changing seasons. He made scarecrows out of sticks and string and old clothes. When they had too many courgettes to know what to do with, he found different ways of cooking them and gave some away to friends and neighbours.

He encouraged his mum to grow tomato plants in growbags in the back garden.

He found out about a scheme run by Age UK called Adopt a Garden. Now Joe and his dad look after the garden of an elderly couple nearby who can no longer care for it by themselves.

Joe has developed a love of vegetables. He understands the satisfaction of growing your own. He loves the different shapes and colours and textures. He loves the fresh tastes. He has discovered that vegetables are not boring at all.

Time for reflection

Leader Joe is a pretty ordinary young boy. Most schools have gardens, with the opportunity to experience the joy of growing your own flowers and vegetables. Most of us have a garden or back yard or balcony where we can grow something, too.

Let us take a moment to reflect on Joe’s story as we listen to the words of this meditation written by Joe himself.

Reader to read the following meditation, Leader to read the prayer that follows.

Fast food, slow food

When I go to a fast food restaurant, I know exactly what I’m getting.
There are no surprises. Some would even say it is boring.

But now I know that there are such a lot of new and exciting foods out there to discover.
Weird and wonderful shapes that bring a smile to my face.
Vibrant colours. Mouthwatering, indescribable flavours.
This is slow food. This is exciting food.

When I ate food from an Indian takeaway, I did not think about how it was made.
I did not consider the ingredients. I had no interest in the recipe.

But now I realize that the aromas and flavours of a fresh home-made curry are created by a combination of herbs and spices.
These herbs and spices are lovingly grown, carefully selected, patiently ground and cleverly combined.
Traditional and local knowledge are passed down through the generations to create a perfect curry. 
This is slow food. This is exciting food.

When I ate a ready meal in front of the TV, I did not notice what I was eating.
I could not tell you what the meal tasted like. It did not bring me pleasure.

But now I know that there is a pleasure in getting your hands dirty.
A pride that comes from the hard work of growing your own vegetables.
There is a pleasure in helping to cook your own meals.
A pride that comes from peeling, chopping, grating and stirring.
This is slow food. This is exciting food. 

Dear Lord,
Thank you for all the good things you give.
Thank you for all the wonderful fruit and vegetables that you have created.
Thank you for the sun and rain and fertile soil that help them to grow.
Thank you that we can grow our own delicious food in our gardens and our school allotment.
Help us to appreciate slow food.


Harvest song or hymn.  

Publication date: December 2013   (Vol.15 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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