It’s time to get out the gardening gloves and watering cans and get busy in the school kitchen garden – the North Byron Farmers Market Association Grow Your Own Lunchbox challenge is on again.

Primary schools from around the Byron Shire are invited to join in this fun and educational event at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market on Friday, November 4, which celebrates the local area’s school kitchen garden programs and encourages kids to grow their own fresh, healthy and nutritious food.

The Grow Your Own Lunchbox Challenge  asks schools to compete in four categories:  Best Box of Produce From the School Garden, Best Pickle or Preserve, Best Fundraising Ideas, and the main event, the Lunchbox Challenge, which sees groups of students create a healthy lunchbox on the spot using produce from their school garden.

Entries will be judged by a panel of local farmers and chefs, who will award prizes in all categories, along with some other special prizes.

Market manager Allie Godfrey said last year’s inaugural event was a huge success, with the six participating schools – Wilsons Creek, Ocean Shores, Main Arm, Shearwater, The Pocket and Crabbes Creek – creating some impressive displays and lunches from their garden produce.

“Schools put in a amazing effort last year,” she said,  “It was a real thrill to see the passion and creativity happening in local school kitchen gardens.”

She said teaching kids to grow their own food was something that should be encouraged in every school. Not only do children gain practical skills, they also develop an appreciation of the importance of fresh food and healthy eating, and learn about science, nature and caring for the environment.

With an ageing farming workforce (the average age of Australian farmers is now over 50), school gardens also played an important role in developing the young farmers of the future, she said.

For more information or to register your school’s interest in competing in this year’s Grow Your Own Lunchbox Challenge, please email [email protected] or [email protected]