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Model – School Kitchen Garden Projects

Posted in Models, Movements, Research by Ferne Edwards on April 13th, 2007

School kitchen gardens are an excellent example of how food, culture, health and a reconnection to nature can all be practically and tastefully taught to students. One prominent local project is the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden project, which was launched in May 2001 when Ms Alexander created a kitchen garden at Collingwood College for students in grades 3-6.

Alexander wanted to:

…investigate whether by creating and caring for an extensive vegetable garden and the preparing and cooking the harvested produce, young children could develop greater enjoyment of flavour and texture, a better understanding of cultural and culinary difference, and an increased understanding of the relationship between growing things and caring for the environment.

With successful results, the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation was established In February 2004 to introduce kitchen gardens into other schools. This goal was furthered by receiving grants of $2.4 million from the Victorian State Government to part fund an additional 40 new kitchen garden programs in primary schools. The success of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden project is currently being evaluated by researchers from Deakin University.

There are also other organisations who who can provide information about how school grounds can be used for environmental sustainability education. According to the Victorian Association for Environmental Education, these sources include the Gould Group (Multicultural School Gardens and
the Schoolgrounds for Learning program), the Melbourne Wildlife Sanctuary at La Trobe University (Sustainability Leaders program and more), Greening Australia (Schools for the Environment) and the Department of Primary Industries (LandLearn). CERES in Brunswick also runs the Sustainable Schools program, with projects undertaken by multiple schools under the topics of energy, water, waste, community, biodiversity and international.

The not-for-profit group, Cultivating Community, has also recently secured funding from the Victorian Department of Communities and the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation to develop a business plan to engage with schools to develop “Edible Classrooms".

Do you know of any other school kitchen garden projects that currently exist in Melbourne? Do you doubt their success or wish to comment on barriers to implementing more? Ideally, it would be wonderful for kitchen gardens to be established at every school. Why doesn’t this happen? How could edible gardens be legislated in policy? Comments on this post are welcome.

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