The Kitchen Garden program was introduced in 2010 and is based around the concept of growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing. The program encourages students to immerse themselves in the world of sustainable gardening, through co-operation and an awareness of the world around them.
As the year progresses, students experience the joy of growing their own vegetables, herbs and flowers, and later harvest them for the cooking program. They experience the annual garden cycle of preparation, growth, care and maintenance, and harvesting. Each student keeps a journal with a detailed record of all activities in the garden — drawings, photographs and recipes. Kitchen Garden activities link into other subjects in the classroom and topics discussed in the garden are expanded on by the class teacher.
The program encourages the tasting of all sorts of plants after harvesting and cooking — tastes and smells that will accompany the student forever and which they may otherwise not encounter. It is hoped that the experiences gained during the year will have a lasting influence on the student’s behaviour, their understanding of gardening and healthy produce, and their diet for a lifetime.
Students prepare compost from fruit and vegetable scraps collected from the Junior School classrooms; these are processed on a daily basis. They learn that soil preparation is the secret to growing excellent vegetables and herbs. They discover the diverse world of seeds creating their own personal seed collections as an independent research study, examining the different characteristics and planting requirements of each.
In autumn, students go on bug patrol! Looking at good and bad bugs in the garden, they examine organic methods of controlling the bad bugs — including companion planting, whilst at the same time cultivating the good bugs in our worm farm.
Students learn about and practise the many different methods of planting and cultivation. They perform soil testing and analysis. They participate in all aspects of garden care and maintenance — from the construction of plant supports and woven fences, to pruning, weeding and fertilisation — all the while composting waste to feed the cycle of life.