This story was written by Sarah O’Shannassy, an Occupational Therapist working for Katherine Regional Aboriginal Health and Related Services (KRAHRS). It originally appeared in the Remote Indigenous Gardens Network newsletter.
Children at the Guluman Child and Family Centre in Ngukurr Community have been learning how to grow plants from seeds, and cook food using vegetables they have picked and grown from their garden.
Ngukurr is a remote Aboriginal Community located approximately 640 kilometres from Darwin in South East Arnhem Land. The Guluman Centre is part of Ngukurr Community Education Centre, which includes preschool, childcare and playgroup services.
The Guluman Kitchen Garden Program is part of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Classroom. The program has taught children how to plant and look after both seeds and seedlings. Children have been involved in regular maintenance and upkeep of the garden.
They have also learnt how to make a variety of natural pest repellents to be used on their garden, following damage from caterpillars and mealybugs.
A lot of trial and error was involved in the gardening aspect of the program as some herbs and vegetables didn’t grow as intended due to soil and weather conditions. Produce was mostly planted and grown in raised garden beds as the soil in Ngukurr is rocky and hard.
Children learned how to improvise due to lack of accessibility to some resources, often associated with living in a remote community - using spoons for small shovels and eggshells as pots for seeds.
Children at the Guluman Centre also learned how to cook the produce that they harvested from their garden. Some cooking sessions included making vegetable fritters, beetroot dip and fruit smoothies.
All the additional ingredients required for the recipe were accessible from the community store, to encourage families to re-create meals at home.
Cooking sessions also provided children with an opportunity to develop functional skills that will be useful for school, such as fine motor skills for cutting and tracing, following instructions and sequencing.
Children also learned how to produce artwork from their garden, including rosella stained placemats, leaf portraits and seed jewellery.
The children have produced a cookbook of the recipes that they cooked, to share with their community.
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