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Forster Public School launches their Kitchen Garden Program16-12-2011
Forster Public School, in the Great Lakes region of New South Wales, has officially launched its Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program! The launch took place on Friday 9 December and was a huge success. Stephanie was joined by Kitchen Garden Foundation Board member Helen Murray and Project Officer Zoe Bowman and other special guests from the Forster community at the launch.
The school is on the mid north coast of New South Wales and with 750 students has the highest enrolment of all the 55 NSW Kitchen Garden Program Schools. (The smallest school running the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program has only six students!)
Forster PS received funding to implement the Kitchen Garden Program from the Australian Government in May 2010 and have been very busy since. They have expanded their already existing garden and built a wonderful home-style kitchen. Kitchen and garden classes began this year for students in Years 3 and 4 and the Year 5's and 6's have been having a ‘taster' of the Program during Term 4.
The launch began with a tour of the garden and kitchen where students were tending to the garden and creating morning tea in the kitchen. Guests were then welcomed by Acting Principal Narelle Kessey before hearing from students Rosie Newman and Senan Kuruppu, who spoke about their love for kitchen and garden classes.
Senan spoke about what he likes best about garden classes: ‘We have learnt a lot from being in gardening lessons. Some of these things include how to use the tools correctly, identifying the plants that are poisonous, how to grow plants and how to water plants. We had lots of fun in the Program and we really love our garden lessons.'
Bec Pearson is a member of the Forster community with no immediate ties to the school but is a keen volunteer. She spoke about her experiences in volunteering in the kitchen with the students:
‘My first day was overwhelming to say the least. I was bombarded with questions, kids wanting to ask everything all at once. I went home to a strong cup of tea in a quiet spot to nurse my sore head!!! But despite feeling overwhelmed, I couldn't wait to go back for more! Over time I have observed the benefits of the Program to the children. I've watched them:
- work as a team
- solve problems individually and as a group
- use their initiative
- show leadership
- take on responsibility
- achieve goals - each class they saw and tasted the fruits of their labour.
I've seen first-hand how the Program has helped kids who have found it difficult to focus, to take on responsibility and to contribute to a tangible end product.
I see how proud the kids are of themselves. It is a fun learning environment. Each time I cook with the kids I'm so proud of their efforts, their attitude and their manners. Thanks kids for making my time as a volunteer so rewarding.'
Stephanie congratulated Forster PS and welcomed them to the kitchen garden community by presenting the school with our traditional red watering can, before unveiling a plaque and cutting a cake decorated with a plan of the garden. Attendees then feasted on a morning tea comprising an array of delicious dishes made by the students with produce from the garden. The menu included:
- Hummus with veggie dippers
- Carrot and beetroot dips with flatbread
- Soda bread with herb butter
- Turkish zucchini fritters with mint dipping sauce
- Spinach triangles with pumpkin and chilli filos
- Rhubarb and lemon curd tarts
- Orange and cardamom cakes
- Chilled homemade teas
Quite the spread!
The Great Lakes area is lucky enough to have four other Kitchen Garden Schools in the area: Bungwhal PS, Buladelah PS, Comboyne PS and Crowdy Head PS. Forster PS and Bungwhal PS have a very strong relationship and have benefitted greatly from working closely together on the Kitchen Garden Program in their schools.
Congratulations to Forster PS for hosting such a successful event and their ongoing commitment to the Kitchen Garden Program.
Special thank you to Forster PS parent Amanda Kennett who arranged baskets of fabulous seasonal veg picked by the children that day from the school garden for the Foundation team's dinner!
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