Hands-on learning about healthy eating and a healthy planet


Our food system is giving rise to a growing social, health and environmental crisis. Much of the food produced, sold and eaten in the UK is cheap, nutrient-poor and highly-processed, with many people under consuming grains, beans, vegetables and fruit. Diet-related diseases are increasing. 20% of primary school leavers are overweight or obese. Food production is unsustainable with agriculture responsible for 10% of UK greenhouse gas emissions and intensive farming associated with 60% soil carbon loss and declining biodiversity. Covid19 increased inequalities in our food system.

We will develop and test an innovative school initiative in which portable aquaponic pods are used to help children experience food production and learn about sustainability, climate change and healthy eating. Working with schools and children we will produce a curriculum that can be delivered at scale to enhance food education and empower children to drive the agenda on tackling food sustainability and climate change.

Aims and Objectives

  1. To co-design a programme of school-based activities using portable aquaponic pods with school children and Farm Urban that can be delivered across UK primary schools to show how food production can be climate-friendly and community-based. 
  2. To test the feasibility, acceptability and sustainability of the “Aquaponics for Healthy Diets and Healthy Planet” programme in 5 primary schools within Yorkshire, in areas with different deciles of the Index of Multiple Deprivation. 
  3. Evaluate the potential of the programme for impact and transferability (scalability).


Related links

To learn more visit the Future Food Heroes website.

Prof Katherine Denby, Department of Biology

Dr Alana Kluczkovski, Department of Biology 

Prof Maria Bryant, Department of Health Sciences
Prof Bob Doherty, School for Business and Society


Farm Urban is one of the pioneer indoor vertical farms in the UK.

5 primary schools from the Leaders for Change Platform developed by the University of York.

This project builds on a number of research projects.

Alana Kluczkovski (PDRA on the project) has extensive schools engagement experience around food and food choices. She developed an outreach initiative called “Take a Bite Out of Climate Change” led by Prof. Bridle at Manchester with input from Denby and Doherty. Alana has run many events and published a paper about the online activities she developed last year (2021 Kluczkovski et al. ‘Learning in lockdown: using the COVID-19 crisis to teach kids about food and climate change.’ Nutrition Bulletin.

The project team work together on FixOurFood, an interdisciplinary UKRI programme led by Doherty with Co-Is Bryant and Denby, which is working to develop a regenerative food system for Yorkshire. The schools work in FixOurFood is focused on holiday food provision and changing school menus.

This proposal will build on these research outcomes to add food education impact showing how schools themselves can have a positive impact on climate change and healthy diets by indoor food production.

Moreover, this work builds on UKRI/ESRC research on social enterprise business models and food system resilience by Doherty (IKnowFood project), as well as his work for Defra on the role of innovation to scale-up UK production of vegetables. Farm Urban our partner is an example of an innovative social enterprise in this field by pioneering urban food production coupled with educational outreach to promote human and planetary health.

As the project is carrying on, there are no outcomes to share at this point.

Related links

To learn more visit the Future Food Heroes website.