Sustainable Cities™

Humlebæk: From Vegetable Patch to Down the Hatch

In an area of outstanding natural beauty in Humlebæk in northeast Zealand, Denmark, a popular school project focuses on developing children’s knowledge of farming, making food and healthy eating habits. With a view of the Sound, school children make their own gardens and grow their own crops. Other children come on one-day visits to see and understand how food gets from the soil to their dining table. The project has proven extremely popular, receiving 15,000 school children a year to grow their own gardens, experience nature and cook together.

Skolebørn arbejder i grøntsagshaverne, Venligst udlånt af Haver til Maver, Thomas Nielsen

Aarstidernes farm in Humlebæk, Krogerup Home Farm, is the setting for experiences and instruction, offering school classes the opportunity to participate in the project 'Haver til Maver' (literally, from gardens to stomachs). Pupils are invited to cultivate their own gardens and cook food in an outdoor kitchen, or to pay a one-day visit to get an insight into the countryside and cookery. The purpose of the project is for children to understand where produce comes from and to involve them in the process of making the food they eat. The project is based on Aaarstiderne's experiences with tuition and eating habits.

The school gardens which constitute the core of the project are located close to the main building at Krogerup Home Farm with a view over the Sound, woodland and fields. Each class has its own garden, which it lays out under the guidance of experienced gardeners. The gardeners, all of whom are nature guides, follow the children's progress in the gardens and teach them how to grow things. The nature guides' activities are all based on Haver til Maver's teaching materials or Krogerup's nature strategy. In the school children's absence, the gardeners help weeding the garden in order to secure the long-term sustainability of the project. A 24/7 web cam permits the children to keep an eye on how their plants are coming along and see what the weather is like at the farm.

School children in the garden in late summer, courtesy of Haver til Maver, Thomas Nielsen

Aarstiderne (the Seasons) has been growing organic vegetables and delivering them to private consumers' doorsteps since 1999. In parallel with its production and sale of vegetables, the company has been involved in helping children to learn about food. The ongoing project Haver til Maver constitutes Aarstiderne's schools service, focusing on the food children eat and the countryside that surrounds them.

The idea is that the vegetables grown by the children in their allotments are used to make food in the farm's outdoor kitchen. There are cookery activities for regular visitors to gardens. The project has developed its own teaching material and the school children prepare food from the series of easy recipes. They cook their food over a bonfire with the help of a trained chef and then serve and taste their own food.

Haver til Maver has been a tremendous success since the outset. In 2009, 52 classes of children were attached to the project, visiting Krogerup 8 times between April and October, and some 3,000 children have paid one-day visits. In all, about 15,000 school students have attended tuition at the farm. Many parents and siblings also pay a visit and get involved in the maintenance of the gardens. The success of the project has been endorsed by an interim assessment report, which emphasises the importance of the children's commitment. The assessment report reveals, among other things, that the children thoroughly enjoy spending time in their gardens and find the experience extremely instructive. According to both parents and teachers, the project puts the children in a better state of mind.


Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014