North Melbourne Primary: carrying on the Kitchen Garden ethos

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

It warms our hearts to hear about schools and services getting to the core of what the Kitchen Garden Program sets out to do: teaching children and young people the power of growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing fresh seasonal produce. North Melbourne Primary School is one such example, providing pleasurable food education and delivering positive food habits for their students – all with lots of delicious fun.  

It is an absolute privilege teaching the students in the SAKG program. I really do see the changes it makes in so many students. 

 

 

Kristen Re, kitchen specialist at North Melbourne Primary School, shared with us her love of the Program and the impact it’s had on the school, saying students start their journey by composting fresh food scraps. The compost is nurtured and used by other year levels to grow a wide range of plants and foods including citrus, greens, flowers and indigenous herbs and fruits. Produce is harvested for use in kitchen classes for Grade 3 onwards. 

The change in attitude towards fresh produce from Grade 3 to Grade 6 is extremely noticeable.

Kristen also talked about how children’s attitude to food shifted through their involvement in the program. From the point where children are introduced to the kitchen program, she saw students who were hesitant to try new foods become enthusiastic about the different and delicious meals they had cooked themselves. Some Grade 6 favourites included warrigal green pasta and lemon myrtle and cherry guava plum desserts. 

This year, students at North Melbourne have started cooking journals, creating scrapbooks focussing on weekly recipes in the cooking classes. This gives the children the opportunity to develop their reflection skills, writing about the new practical skills they have learnt as well as the feelings that cooking and eating evoke. Kristen shared one student’s moving response: "The rice in this week's meal made me a little melancholy as the smell reminded me of my family in China who I have not seen since before 2020". 

 

Cooking and working in collaboration with others also allows the children at North Melbourne Primary School to grow their social and soft skills, which Kristen noted was especially empowering for those who may not perform as well in the traditional classroom environment. A rotating leader or ‘head chef’ role gives students the chance to practice their leadership skills and sharing meals “displays positive reinforcement of an inclusive learning environment, where we all show respect for each other”.

We feel proud that our students learn basic food skills and techniques, that will support them not only in childhood, but as adults making positive food choices for a healthier future nation.

 


North Melbourne Primary School has been running their kitchen garden program since 2008 and Kristen says students continue to connect with the program and will be using the skills and knowledge gained for many years to come. We wish them well and look forward to seeing the results. Members can follow North Melbourne on the Shared Table to see what they are up to in the kitchen garden or grab a recipe for warrigal greens pasta.

 



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