China has a long history of farming and food culture, and cherishing food is one of its long-standing virtues. That is why to celebrate World Food Day, Huili School Shanghai organised a series of activities centred around the theme 'Clear Your Plate'.
Our food production systems remain out of sight for the vast majority of us, which makes it difficult to appreciate the hard work that goes into farming. This, unfortunately, makes food waste all too easy for many of us. But Huili's 'Clean Your Plate' campaign has helped to teach our pupils just how important conserving our food is. Pupils are encouraged to take only what they can eat and save — not throw away — any leftovers. Since the campaign's inception, we have noticed a dramatic drop in food wastage.
01 Learning from valuing food The world is currently facing many unprecedented changes, and the COVID-19 pandemic poses multiple challenges to global food safety. A country with a large population, like China, must pay close attention to food security.
Under the current turbulent international situation, the government of China launched the 'Clean Your Plate' campaign around the country, with the goal of emphasising the importance of food security. As global citizens, we need to be alert to dangers even in times of calm. This campaign reminds us that we must appreciate that food and material resources are hard-earned and of high value. During the activities conducted this week, pupils demonstrated that they are responsible and grateful for what they have.
02 Huili organic farm This spring, our school started a funding plan sponsored by Shanghai United Foundation and Friends of Huili. We chose charitable organisations such as Roots & Shoots Organic Farm to teach our pupils about food production and conservation. To this end, the pupils also started planting a school garden.
Pupils learn about gardening through a weekly CCA. On sunny days, they till over the soil and remove weeds before planting seedlings. On rainy days, they learn about changing of the seasons, growing patterns of fruits and vegetables and how to use gardening tools. By planting and harvesting, pupils gained a deep understanding of food production and healthy eating habits.
To help our pupils better understand gardening, Friends of Huili prepared gift bags for all pupils. Each one contained a packet of seeds and a planting pot in the hopes that they might be inspired to try their own hand at gardening.
Looking for Logo designers We also launched the Huili Gardening Project, a school-wide initiative dedicated to promoting organic gardening, conservation awareness and sustainable development. In keeping with the spirit of being 'for pupils, by pupils', we are looking for pupils who can design a logo to meaningfully encapsulate this project. Teachers will make a final decision on which to use. It will represent this project on packing and other promotional materials. We are looking for a few enthusiastic, creative Huili designers!
Currently, the vegetables in our garden are thriving. Spinach takes 60 days to grow. Radishes take even longer. Whenever we eat, it is important to respect the hard work of the farmer and express gratitude for nature's bounty.
We hope the gift bags will inspire green thinking in our pupils. With guidance and support, every little effort will bring about positive change in the world.
China and the West may have different food cultures, but food conservation is universal. As a bilingual school, Huili's is uniquely positioned to build a bridge between cultures and teach a valuable lesson about the food we eat, the hard work that goes into its production and how we can all be better stewards of our planet.