“It’s so much more than cooking.” – A kitchen volunteer
Our Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden at Majura Primary School provides pleasurable food education to children in a fun and engaging environment. Our students get to spend 45 minutes a fortnight in our wonderful vegetable garden under the guidance of our Garden Specialist, then every other week they spend one and a half hours with our Kitchen Specialist in our home-style kitchen classroom preparing and sharing a wonderful variety of meals created from the produce they have grown in the garden.
A day in the Kitchen Garden for our students…
Working in the garden means finding out the very best ways to grow food. We also work out ways to save water, to use up scraps from the kitchen, to enjoy being out in the sunshine, and how to look after all the plants in our garden. We now know that worms are a garden’s best friends and that snails don’t like climbing over eggshells!
We pick many different vegetables and herbs and even flowers to use in the kitchen. This year we have grown broccoli, climbing beans, cauliflowers, cabbages, silver beet, rhubarb, fennel, potatoes, zucchini and many others. Some foods take a long time to be ready to eat but when the weather is warm the leafy salads grow very fast. The broad bean plants are so tall – just like Jack-in-the Beanstalk. The basil plants smelt beautiful all summer and we used the leaves on tomato salads.
Being in the kitchen is great fun and every week the menu is different. We use as much as we can from the garden. Rolling pasta is very popular and everyone has now had a turn. We can make stuffings for ravioli using greens from the garden and ricotta cheese. We can also roll pastry for vegetable pies and calzone, we can make fritters, and muffins and pizza, and many different salads and risotto, and in the winter everyone loved making soup. Most of us have now tried new foods, and we all think of good words to describe these flavours and textures.
Eating the food is the very best part of being in the kitchen. There is a warm and friendly feeling in the room as we taste how good everything tastes. Each group arranges their dish on platters so that every table has at least four different dishes every week. The platters of food look beautiful and there is hardly ever anything leftover and everyone feels really proud of their work. It is important to learn to pass the platters and the water to each other and to understand about sharing everything. The tables look pretty with herbs and flowers in little vases.
The philosophy of the Kitchen Garden Program at Majura
- We immerse children in their learning by encouraging talk and thinking that uses all of the senses.
- We stress pleasure, flavour and texture, by avoiding describing food to children as ‘healthy’ as the main or only descriptor.
- We plan menus around seasonal availability taking account of growing timelines. For example, lots of basil is likely to lead to a pesto-making session and lots of green tomatoes to chutney or pickles.
- We seek to expand children’s culinary horizons so that new foods and cultural differences are presented as fascinating rather than strange.
- We seek to expand the children’s understanding and vocabulary for describing flavours and textures, and garden & plant terms.
- We use fresh ingredients at their peak. For example, herbs should not be past their season nor beans be overgrown and tough.
- We time the cooking of raw fruit and vegetables with great care so children are not presented with unpalatable or unappealing food.
- We believe in the intrinsic value of coming together around a table to share a meal that has been jointly prepared.
- We believe the school and the Kitchen Garden program is an asset and resource for the whole community.
- We value the role of the volunteers, the Garden and Kitchen Specialists and the classroom teachers to provide learning experiences that are fun and enjoyable for children.
ACT demonstration school for the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program.
Majura Primary School is the ACT demonstration school for the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. This means that we share our knowledge with other schools, teachers and interested groups, and help support and train other schools in the region joining the National Program.
Majura is proud of our school, our children and our links with local community and is deeply committed to the Kitchen Garden being an asset and resource for the whole community. We relish the opportunity to welcome visitors, facilitate learning, and increase volunteer and community participation in our Kitchen Garden program.