How Stephanie Alexander is making our kids happy in the garden.
Currently around 33,500 children in 267 schools across Australia are growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing organic produce each week. The Medibank Community Fund has recently partnered with the Kitchen Garden Program to help even more Australian children get involved in this wonderful initiative. With aligned priorities that include encouraging people to adopt healthier eating habits, take up physical activity and engage in greater community connectedness, the partnership is a perfect fit.
Exciting plans for the program’s next stage of growth include developing a nation-wide training program, creating a kitchen garden syllabus, building on web-based resources and increasing the program’s reach to 10% of all Australian primary schools.
There are many ways everyone can get involved to achieve pleasurable food education for children. We’ve asked a few people who contribute to its success to share why they love being a part of the Kitchen Garden Program.
Stephanie Alexander, Founder, Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation:
As I travel around the country I meet so many enthusiastic students, happily and proudly engaged in so many varied activities. In gardens they are digging, wheelbarrowing, planting a tree or a seedling. In the kitchens they are chopping, slicing, mixing and rolling. They are always full of smiles and tell me how much they enjoy this Program.
Ange Barry, CEO, Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation:
Feeding children’s curiosity and allowing them to make up their own minds about food is what makes the Kitchen Garden Program unique. It provides children with their own experiences and own motivation to do something positive in their lives. To see such an amazing community effort, create a really powerful change for children, is just terrific.
Rita Marigliani, Manager, Group Community Relations, Medibank Community Fund
The Medibank Community Fund is about supporting initiatives which encourage people to make healthy choices today for better health tomorrow. When I had a tour of the Kitchen Garden Program, I was delighted to see eight and nine year olds confidently working in the garden and the kitchen preparing delicious and healthy meals.
Arama Mataira, Principal, Wiluna Remote Community School, Western Australia
The Kitchen Garden Program gives students the opportunity to participate in decision making, creative design, scientific research, spiritual growth and celebrating life through gardening, cooking and sharing food. We call it ‘sneaky learning’.
Ben Guest, Classroom Teacher and Garden Specialist, Collingwood College, Victoria
Learning to grow food in a veggie garden, cooking what we grow and then sharing it with each other on a big beautiful table is just a perfect way for kids to learn. Kids can do just about every job in a garden, and there are just so many kids that learn best by doing.
Mary, volunteer at a Sunshine Coast Kitchen Garden School, Queensland
One of the teachers brings his guitar to the kitchen class and at the end of the session he and the children sing a song. It makes me feel they are thanking us for volunteering. We are all individuals who contribute our own skills to the Program and I can’t say anything bad about the Program to be perfectly honest. I love it.
Sage Andrews, student, Majura Primary School, ACT
The garden is a great way to watch changes in the land and learn facts like rhubarb leaves are poisonous but the stalks are OK. The kitchen has very healthy and tasty food, you learn how to use a knife safely and sayings like ‘grow, cook, eat’ and ‘waste not one’. When you’re older and you have a flat or old house it helps to grow vegetables to save up for a new house.