The launch of Newham Primary School’s Kitchen Garden Program in Term 4, 2013, was the culmination of several projects to make this possible. Newham resident, Penny Roberts, who has led the design and development of the school’s gardens over several years, entered the school into the Victorian School Gardens awards and the $250 voucher prize was used to fund the purchase of herbs and vegetable seedlings. These were planted by the Grade 5/6 students into the wicking beds previously constructed by the community of Newham including Jessie Szigethy-Gyula, the program’s Garden Specialist. In the garden this term, the students have been learning how to make and use compost, prepare garden beds, plant the seedlings and the other requirements of a successful vegetable garden.
In the kitchen, the Grade 5/6 students made savoury muffins with their teacher, Eron Chapman, to sell at the ‘Children’s Day Out’ event in Woodend. They learnt how to modify the various muffin recipes to be healthier by reducing sugar, replacing animal fats with healthier oils and adding wholemeal flour to the recipes. This raised a further $260 to buy ingredients for the fortnightly cooking sessions. The students have been improving their cutting skills and have made platters of julienne veges to serve with Tzatziki Dip made with spring onions from the school garden as well as a range of salads. We have signed up with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden National Program and cooking and gardening sessions were extended to Grades 3 and 4 in 2014.
To complement the program, the school signed up for the VicHealth, Walk to School campaign and the students used their pedometers to tally their daily steps. They enjoyed a celebratory healthy breakfast prepared and served by the Grade 5/6s at the end of November. The assistance of volunteer Dietician, Erin Soutter, in the initial cooking sessions ensured the students receive accurate and relevant dietary information, including skills in label reading, to prepare meals in line with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.