Here's a copy of the article about our school garden that has been published in today's Christchurch Mail. If you want to see the online version click here and go to page 3.
Turning youngsters on to gardening
OAKLANDS teacher Suzanne Wood is giving her young students plenty of food for thought, while happily letting them get their hands dirty doing it.
Wood is co- ordinating the Halswell school’s new ‘‘ Garden to Table’’ programme, which allows students to grow and harvest their own fresh produce, then cook and prepare it to share with others.
It’s not just the school children who muck in working in the garden and the kitchen – much of the spadework for the Oaklands’ initiative has been provided by teachers, parents, older relatives and local organisations.
‘‘It’s a really good way of involving the local community in the school,’’ Wood says.
The Garden to Table concept took root in Australia more than 10 years ago, before sprouting a few years later in New Zealand.
This year, Oaklands became one of only four schools in the South Island where the ‘‘ handson’’ learning tool is starting to blossom and bear fruit.
‘ ‘ We’re using it as a whole school event,’’ Wood said.
Year 7 and 8 pupils are mentoring the new entrants – going into the garden and doing jobs like sowing and weeding.
‘‘It’s a way to develop a bond between the older and the younger children,’’ she said.
As well as helping with language and life skills, the programme lets students do practical outdoor work then gets them ‘‘into the kitchen, actually making something’’.
With the first months of the school year planting (and eating) summer vegetables like lettuce and carrots, Wood and her students are now planning for winter crops, such as cauliflower and brussels sprouts. They also hope to begin planting fruit trees later in the year.
Once the scheme is bedded in at Oaklands, Wood believes it will have the same positive impact as in other schools in New Zealand and Australia – raising youngsters’ desire to try new foods and giving better understanding and more confidence in cooking and gardening.
For Wood, this sort of teaching and learning also plants seeds in children’s minds that will allow them to lead happier and healthier lives. It’s a lesson she has taken to heart herself, recently studying organic horticulture at Lincoln University, and putting this into practice in her own kitchen garden.
‘‘Why pay for a bunch of spring onions or other veges when you can grow them yourself?’’