School gardens are becoming more common around the country, giving kids a chance to learn how food is grown. But often the missing link is how to cook the food once it’s been harvested. The Garden to Table Programme is set to change that. It’s an exciting new initiative for New Zealand primary schools where children aged seven to 10 will learn to grow, harvest, prepare and share food.
The programme in New Zealand, based on the successful Australian programme of the same name, is a charitable trust spearheaded by Catherine Bell.
The four components of the programme are Growing, Harvesting, Preparing and Sharing. Every school in the programme has a garden and a kitchen, where children learn how to cook the food they’ve grown, then sit down at the end of every lesson to eat it. The project employs two part-time specialist staff.
Catherine says, “The eventual spin-off into homes is invaluable, as parents who don’t have basic skills in growing food or cooking it are encouraged and even taught by their own children to do so. Wonderful stories have emerged from Australia about families who now prepare dinner from fresh ingredients instead of having prepared or take-out food, and who sit together around a table to enjoy it. And [stories] of those who now have their own productive vegetable gardens, and those who feel it has brought their family closer together.”
A pilot programme is underway at three schools in Auckland. As the first official pilot school, East Tamaki Primary School students are well on their way, with year five and six children working every week in the garden and kitchen. The trust hopes to roll the programme out around the country.
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