Volunteering in the Kitchen and/or Garden
The Kitchen Garden Program at Majura Primary School relies on many people to work to its full potential, and the volunteer body is one of the most important facets of the project. We welcome your time, passion and enthusiasm in kitchen classes, garden classes, or both. If you don’t want to volunteer in kitchen or garden classes, there are other ways you can help out too.
Volunteering in garden classes
When you volunteer in a garden class you work with our Garden Specialist. Each class is 45 minutes long. At both the beginning and the end of the class the students gather together, to learn about the days tasks and discuss what they have learnt. For the rest of the class they go about their garden activities divided into small groups of 4-5 students. Each group works under the supervision of a volunteer. It would be ideal if you could be in the garden fifteen minutes before the class commences to discuss the class plan with the Garden Specialist.
Examples of activities each group carries out in the garden include preparing beds, sowing seeds, sorting seeds, harvesting, mulching, composting, investigating and art projects.
Helping in kitchen classes
When you volunteer in a kitchen class you work with our Kitchen Specialist. Each kitchen lesson is an hour and a half in duration. The first ten minutes are spent washing hands, putting on aprons, then sitting quietly at the tables to listen to the menu for the day and to discuss the ingredients and techniques we will be using.
Each class is divided into permanent 5 groups each comprising 4 -5 students. The menu comprises vegetable and salad dishes, a main component and accompaniments, i.e. bread, and occasionally dessert. Each group is given a different part of the meal to prepare and they are given one copy of the recipe to follow and the necessary ingredients.
The recipes vary in their degree of difficulty and we try to rotate the easy/trickier/complex recipes weekly to allow the children to experience and master a range of skills. Ideally there is one volunteer per station to help them read through the recipe, measure ingredients, prepare the dish and distribute it amongst the platters for the shared meal time. Any students wandering from their assigned station should be asked to return to the group.
When all parts of the menu are ready we sit as a group and share the meal together. Group discussion at the table and friendly assistance with passing of plates and water jugs is encouraged; shouting across the room and getting up from the table is not. Everyone sits and eats together: children, teacher and volunteers. At the end of the meal each table is responsible for clearing and cleaning the table, and washing their dishes.
It would be ideal if you could be in the classroom fifteen minutes before the class commences so you become familiar with the menu and timing the readiness of each dish for the mealtime.
Some important tips for volunteers
- Reliability and continuity. We would like you to volunteer for the same class each week as it allows your relationship with the children to develop and is also easier for you to be familiar with your environment. However, we understand this is not possible for all our volunteers, and encourage you to participate in a way that suits your time and commitments.
- Firm and kind instruction. Your role is one of facilitator, rather than a leader who imposes direction. Everyone is there to learn and have fun. Volunteers are not expected to be the disciplinarians, so seek teacher intervention if the firm and kind approach does not seem to be working!
- Hands off. Encourage everyone in the group to participate and share the load. It is important that you don’t do the work, but instead demonstrate and work with the children. Show them rather than tell them.
- Sensory learning. Encourage students to use their senses to touch, taste, smell, hear and see things around them.
- Safety. Practice safe bending and equipment use and encourage the children to do the same.
- Cleaning up. Making a mess and getting dirty does not really matter, however cleaning up at the end of the class does – which often involves being firm with the students to ensure this is done properly.
- Accepting direction from the supervisors. The kitchen and garden teachers run the lessons, your role is to assist them in this.
- Having fun. The children and staff eagerly anticipate the garden and kitchen sessions and are always keen to learn more and be as hands-on as possible. Encourage a sense of enjoyment – that’s what the program is about. We want every volunteer to enjoy their time in the Kitchen Garden.
Working with Vulnerable People Registration
Volunteers working in kitchen and garden classes more than 7 times a year are required to obtain Working with Vulnerable People registration. This is free for volunteers and can be obtained via the Canberra Connect website or shopfronts.
Some people may want to volunteer their time to this program outside the kitchen and garden classes. Some examples might include:
- Helping with our weekly produce stall.
- Seed saving.
- Growing seedlings.
- Contributing excess produce from home gardens.
- Coordinating the harvest and delivery of excess produce from many home gardens to the school.
- Helping with/initiating art projects (for garden art).
- Regularly bringing compostible material from the Knox to our compost bins.
If you would like more information about volunteering in the program contact Lou (0409798945) or Thea (0422942477).
Majura Primary School is located on Knox Street, Watson, ACT. Parking is available in the surrounding streets. There is a carpark on site if you have access requirements.
Please arrive at least 15 minutes before the beginning of the class so you can:
- Sign-in, either in the Kitchen or Garden and grab a cup of tea or coffee.
- Be briefed on your activity by the staff.
Please telephone Majura Primary School on 62055711 if you are unable to attend.