Contract caterer Aspens Services has begun sourcing fresh produce at one of its sites from students who have set up a business selling vegetables grown in their school’s own garden.
Aspens has enabled the students at Grace Academy Solihull to gain business experience by putting them through the company’s supplier evaluation process as part of the project.
Jason Carter, Aspens general manager, said: “Aspens believes in using locally-sourced produce and you can’t get more local than food grown in the academy grounds.
“We treat them in exactly the same way as our other suppliers: we purchase their produce at competitive prices and require them to meet our stringent quality, environmental and health and safety standards and deal with us in a business-like way.”
The Grace Academy Solihull vegetable garden is run by the Academy’s Eco-Team – students who volunteer to help grow fruit and vegetables and take part in other ecological projects.
The project is helping support the Academy’s work to gain the Eco-Schools Silver award.
Grace Academy Solihull Eco Schools co-ordinator Joanne Wenlock said: “As a Business and Enterprise specialist academy, the project with Aspens fits in perfectly with our overall ethos and is helping the students develop sound commercial skills and learn how to set up a business – as well as appreciate the journey of food from seed to plate in a very immediate way.”
The students plan to supply Aspens with a range of vegetables from leeks, potatoes, onions and carrots to tomatoes and salads. The money raised will be used by the academy to fund further ecological projects.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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