Digging into Caloundra State High School’s program

Monday, August 29, 2022

Caloundra State High School in south-east Queensland has adapted their Kitchen Garden Program to be a vital part of its Food Technology course. All Year 7 students are cycled through the program throughout their first year, developing practical and usable skills in both the kitchen and the garden.

Caloundra already had a thriving garden in place when they joined the Program. For the four years prior to joining, the garden was being used by the Inclusive Learning unit and managed by specialist educator Jack Vaney. 

Jack was approached by the Technology teachers at the school, who were looking to add a new element to their program. He recalls: “I knew about the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program so when the idea to expand the garden came onto the radar, we were able to set up the program together.”

With the support of the school’s principal, the Program has been incorporated into the year 7 curriculum. In each 6-7 week block, there are two classes running the program. Each week the students have a theory class where they learn about kitchen techniques, as well as a practical kitchen garden class to put them into action. The program is supported by two food technology teachers, a teacher’s aide, and Jack, who continues to look after the garden. 

In these kitchen garden classes, the class is split in two. Half do a kitchen class and the other half spend their time in the garden before coming back together to share what the ktichen team has cooked up together. 

Carrots being chopped on a green board, on a stainless steel bench

Jack tries to get students as involved as possible in garden maintenance. “I do spend a fair amount of my own lunchtimes and before school in the garden too," he says. "But a lot of jobs get done in this 70-minute class.”

“I always try to get the students involved in the garden work, and I let them figure it out rather than giving them too many instructions. It is really important for them to be able to experiment and learn as they go.”

Jack takes note of what gets students excited, for instance digging, and makes sure there is always a garden bed in need of digging over – whether that be for a new set of crops or to unearth the last potatoes!

The school’s garden is often at the mercy of the Sunshine Coast heat. Jack has found planting greens in summer means there’s always something to cook with, as they “go to seed really quickly, so we collect seeds and replant all the time.”

Autumn and winter have proven to be the best months for growing, with carrots, potatoes, peas, broccoli, cauliflower and more thriving in the garden.

Fresh produce on a bench

 While Jack generally knows what he wants to plant in the garden, he also displays the Kitchen Garden Program’s planting and harvesting schedule on the wall in the classroom, so students can pick out seasonal crops to add to the mix!


Read more about how the Kitchen Garden Program can be integrated into your school’s curriculum here.

To get an idea of how to manage cooking a meal in one class, members can have a look at this resource in the Shared Table.

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