One of the best and easiest ways to enjoy a lifetime of wellness is to cultivate healthy living habits at an early age. In order to do this, we must provide children with knowledge about health and the environment, skills that lead to healthy and sustainable lifestyles, and a strong connection to the earth and their community.
As a means of supporting early life experiences and building community, the St Louis Garden-to-Kitchen program provides children with the knowledge and skills that lead to healthy and environmentally sustainable lifestyles choices. We do this by offering students at St Louis a hands-on model that brings teachers, parents, students, and communities together through growing food, learning about nutrition, and preparing and eating fresh meals.
We hope to engage the curiosity of students and to help them learn how to grow the very best food in the very best way, how to care for it in the garden, how to recognise when it is ripe and at its best, how to prepare it easily and enjoyably and how to develop an expanding culinary palate – and be excited by all these experiences.
We want to convince children to modify their eating habits because the food they are experiencing tastes so good, rather than because they are being told to eat some foods and not to eat others.
Our biodiversity initiatives in the garden also incorporate maintaining a worm farm and a range of animals including chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits to assist with converting compost into garden fertiliser, while at the same time providing students with an experience of handling, caring for and enjoying farm animals.
- To promote environmental stewardship by involving students and local community in the ongoing maintenance of the garden space, care of livestock, weeding, watering, and garbage removal and compost care
- To provide opportunities for developing connectedness to school and community for students with social and emotional and special learning needs
- To integrate eating experiences, food gardens, food preparation and nutritional education into the school curriculum
- To make the connection between healthy foods and good nutrition
- To give students the opportunity to plant, harvest, prepare, and eat food they have grown
- To embrace the spirit of caring, social responsibility, inclusiveness, co-operation, team-work, consensus and collaborative processes in the development of the garden space
- To engage students with active, hands-on learning experience
- A Garden-to-Kitchen Coordinator will be responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of a sustainability theme to be integrated with the inquiry unit at each year level
- Two garden specialists and one kitchen specialist will be employed four eight hours per week each to oversee and deliver the Garden-to-Kitchen program in conjunction with the classroom teachers involved.
- Years 1-4 will take part in the Garden-to-Kitchen program for one hour per week from 2:20-3:20pm for ten consecutive weeks per term as follows – Year 1 in Term 1, Year 2 in Term 2, Year 3 in Term 3 and Year 4 in Term 4
- In support of anaphylactic students, a risk minimisation approach will apply to cooking whereby peanuts, tree nuts (e.g. hazelnuts, cashews, almonds), egg, cow’s milk, wheat, soybean, fish and shellfish will be substituted with other suitable cooking ingredients, however this does not apply to foods containing traces of nuts.
- The school will encourage a “No swapping, sharing or trading of food Policy” in all areas of the school and encourage children to wash hands and tables after eating.
- Students with severe food allergies must only eat food that has been prepared at home or provided by the parent.
- Garden specialists will work in the garden during lunchtime four days per week to provide an opportunity for nominated students with a garden pass to experience our garden and farm animal environment.
- The program coordinator, garden specialists, kitchen specialist and a seconded staff member will form a Community Garden Group who meet once per term or as required to discuss the ongoing maintenance and development of the garden area and program in line with our sustainability master plan.
- The Community Garden Group will promote the Garden-to-Kitchen program by supplying produce to support community fundraising initiatives eg market days, mothers days, nights in the garden
- Nominated students will be responsible for tending to the animals before school and at the end of the school day
- Families will be invited through the school newsletter to register their interest in providing weekend and holiday animal placement. The G2K Coordinator is responsible for allocating animal placements and the Garden Specialist is responsible for preparing the animal take home kit
- Community partnerships have been developed with Pet Stock, Scotsburn Nursery, Bunnings and Mitre10 to donate pet food and plants as required on a regular basis, and additional partnership will be sought from other companies and community groups who are interested in supporting our program