New Zealand takes on Stephanie Alexander’s school gardens

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 21st October 2010

Garden to Table - East Tamaki PrimaryPupils at three New Zealand primary schools are getting their hands dirty in their flourishing school garden with the Garden to Table Trust Programme, where they learn how to grow and harvest fresh fruit and vegetables, and then cook up a storm in their school kitchen, creating meals out of their freshly harvested produce.

The program has taken its inspiration from the positive results of Australia’s Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program.

Research from Deakin and Melbourne Universities into the Kitchen Garden Program revealed that in the first two years it caused clear and positive changes in child attitudes, knowledge, skills and confidence in relation to cooking and gardening. New Zealand’s Garden to Table Trust is modelled on, and affiliated with, the Kitchen Garden Program.

Founder of the Australian programme Stephanie Alexander will be visiting New Zealand next week in support of the Trust and will be touring the three primary schools participating in the programme.

“Children learn through positive experiences and so much can be gained by growing and cooking and enjoying fresh, seasonal food,” said Alexander.

“Our program in Australia has grown from one school in 2001 to 139 in 2010 and my aim is to continue to work to increase support so that more and more Australian government schools can develop full Kitchen Garden Programs. It’s wonderful that New Zealand now has a similar program and I look forward to seeing it flourish as the SAKGP has done.”

Each of the pilot schools, East Tamaki Primary, Meadowbank Primary and Peninsula Primary, has established an extensive fruit and vegetable garden which the students helped to design and build, together with a home-style kitchen classroom that operates sustainably. Gardening and cooking specialists have been employed to implement the classes.

Inspired by Alexander’s work in Australia, Catherine Bell founded the local trust in 2008 with the aim of providing children with a pleasurable education about food, horticulture and their natural environment.

The children at the three pilot schools are growing a wide range of produce, including broad beans, silverbeet, Asian greens, herbs, broccoli, celery, parsley, cauliflower, carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, yams, kumara, radishes and artichokes.