News Bridging the Gap

Aberdeen City Gives Peas a Chance

Bridging the Gap launch a new pilot in Aberdeen schools. Introducing Aberdeenshire-grown organic peas in 11,000 meals.


Balmakewan Farm in Aberdeenshire. Credit: Lucie Wardle

Balmakewan Farm in Aberdeenshire. Credit: Lucie Wardle

Bridging the Gap's latest pilot launched this week in collaboration with Food for Life Scotland and Aberdeen City Council.

The idea was sparked by Phil Swire, farmer at Balmakewan, when he suggested that the peas he was growing in his crop rotations for fish food, could be a nutritious addition to children's school dinners. Phil Swire said:

UK agriculture is on its knees, the future is bleak both for our national farming industry as well as our national health with ever increasing consumption of UPFs. the 'Give Peas a Chance' pilot project is no doubt a drop in the ocean, but this support has allowed us to make tangible differences to our business and allowed us to shorten supply chains. With enough drops we can make an ocean. 

The 12-month Give Peas a Chance pilot project aims to open up a new route to market for this local, organic, nutritious and climate friendly plant protein, allowing pupils to access healthy and sustainable food. It is a partnership between Food for Life Scotland, Aberdeen City Council catering and procurement teams, pea producer Phil Swire of Balmakewan Farm, the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) and the Royal Northern Countryside Initiative (RNCI).  

Sustainable food and farming alliance Sustain’s Bridging the Gap programme aims to enable everyone to enjoy a universally healthy, just and sustainable food system, by reducing barriers to planet-friendly food for people experiencing low incomes. The programme is delivering a series of pilot projects – including this one – across the UK that demonstrate the policies and financial mechanisms that would bridge the gap. 

The organic peas will be in Aberdeen City Council schools from April 2024 until June 2025. The pilot will include menu development to create new pea-based recipes, new educational resources developed by RHET and classroom visits from RNCI, and a producer engagement and knowledge-sharing event for farmers to share learnings from the pilot. 

The Food for Life Scotland programme, which is run by Soil Association Scotland and funded by The Scottish Government, focuses on the power of public food and its potential to have a positive impact on health, the environment, and the local economy. Food for Life Scotland supports local authorities to achieve the Food for Life Served Here (FFLSH) award for their school meals services. Aberdeen City Council has held the FFLSH Bronze award since 2015, and is serving more than 11,000 fresh, local and sustainable school meals in its 47 primary schools and 11 secondary schools every day. 

Hannah Gibbs, Bridging the Gap Programme Manager, Sustain, said: 

“We are thrilled to be working with Balmakewan Farm and the Soil Association on ‘Give Peas a Chance’. We believe that public sector food procurement is a key opportunity to increase access to organic for everyone. This pilot will help us to demonstrate the simple steps that can be taken to get us there.” 

While Martin Greig at Aberdeen City Council, said:

“In Aberdeen City, the health and wellbeing of our pupils is a top priority. As Food for Life Served Here Bronze award holders since 2015, we're committed to getting more fresh, local and sustainable food into our school meals. That’s why we’re delighted to be working in partnership on the Give Peas a Chance pilot programme. This pilot gives us a fantastic opportunity to get a new organic and nutritious product into our school meals, to allow our catering teams to flex their creative muscles in recipe development, and to nourish our pupils and benefit their learning." 

Published Monday 15 April 2024

Bridging the Gap: Bridging the Gap to climate and nature friendly food for all.

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