Head of Primary

He who knows what sweets and virtues are in the ground, the waters, the plants, the heavens, and how to come at these enchantments, is the rich and royal man.

       Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Primary School Kitchen Garden Project

One evening I was watching the Channel 10 show, Shark Tank. It was the episode where a covered, self-watering raised garden bed called Vegepod was being pitched. The product was successful in gaining support from one of the Sharks and the rest, as they say, is history.

An idea began to germinate and gain momentum, as it had been a long held dream to create a veggie patch in the primary school. So we began to research and came across the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. The not-for-profit foundation was established by Stephanie Alexander in 2004. Stephanie felt the growing obesity problem in Australia and internationally was largely caused by people simply not knowing how to prepare fresh, nutritious and importantly delicious food. She identified school-based intervention as the key to tackling this issue, as a poor relationship with food often begins in childhood, while positive food habits are created when children are having fun. Research has shown that students who have hands-on experience of growing their own fresh produce want to cook it and try it, creating behavioural change that will form positive food habits for life. In addition, independent evaluations by the University of Wollongong, Deakin University and the University of Melbourne have validated the success of the program.

The third pathway in the Loreto Normanhurst Strategic Plan is a commitment to an Ecology–Centred School. The primary school team agreed that the creation of a kitchen garden in the primary school would help to develop students that would foster an ecological sensitivity so that all actions reflect a care for God’s creation. In addition, an ethical responsibility for decisions which promote sustainability across all areas of the community, within and outside Loreto Normanhurst.

So we ordered the necessary items for the kitchen garden and planned and gained great expertise from Mr Chris Howell, our onsite gardener from Landscape Solutions. The girls donned their gardening gloves and the Primary School Kitchen Garden Program began. The girls commenced the process of potting, planting and watering with gusto. We started by planting tomatoes, parsley, basil, chives, radish, beans, carrots, zucchini, cucumber and lettuce. Due to the recent rain, the veggie patch has exploded. Once we have grown enough produce, we will move onto the preparing and making component of the program. 

One of the greatest benefits of the Kitchen Garden Program is the ability to arouse a sense of appreciation and respect for the environment through inquiry based learning experiences that have links to the NSW syllabi. Enhancing collaboration, critical thinking, team work, an understanding of cause and effect and increased levels of observation. It will also provide opportunities to deepen student knowledge of environmental sustainability and have a real world experience of what it means to be an ecology-centred school.

 

Mrs Maryanne Dwyer

Head of Primary