Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program

During 2014 we joined the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program as part of our Sustainable Learning Environment Focus area. 
This Program is a comprehensive integration of gardening and cooking into the Curriculum and is mainly aimed at the year 3 and 4 level, but as the children move up through the school, new skills can be introduced and other skills refined and expanded.
During 2015 this program has been running all year in the Year 3 and Year 4 classes with seasonal food being prepared and eaten, though our gardening skills and garden planning need extra work next year to supplement our buying needs. The Year 5/6 classes have had 2 cooking sessions in fourth Term to build on and extend their skills. One of these classes has also been gardening each week and eating what they have grown. They have helped water and weed both the Senior and Junior Garden beds.
We have had fabulous support from our Parents and Grandparents who help guide and supervise our cooking groups, clean up and pack away as well as spend quality time with their children and grand-children. The children have experienced making jam, pickles, dips, salads, main dishes, muffins and sweets. Thanks to the school giving us a good budget, we had not had to ask for any donations of ingredients. Room 6 have had regular gold coin donation products for sale such as plants, seeds, seedlings, Cabbage Moth Scarers, vegetables and Recipe books after Assemblies, raising over $200 in the Year.
The Parents and children in Rooms 5 and 6 have completed a survey to start our Data collection and we have received overwhelming support and positive comments about the Program. It is amazing and very satisfying watching 6 groups of 5 children read, discuss, collect, make, cook, share, co-operate and interact in a positive and supportive way, then talk ‘food‘ while eating and using correct table etiquette. They help set up the room for the lesson and afterwards they put everything away after washing and wiping.
In the garden, they dig, plant, measure, water, harvest and eat what grows. We have had some productive crops and have collected seed for next year. We have studied the 6 Noongar Seasons and compared them to the Traditional European seasons as well as studying bees and their habits and usefulness in the garden. As we are Organic in the garden, we collect and squash caterpillars and only use non chemical sprays for bug deterrents.
We have extended our growing area with a Citrus Orchard containing Lemons, Oranges, Mandarins, Limes and Grapefruit, in the Kindy/ Pre-Primary yard at the Northern end. We anticipate that the program will extend over the 4 Senior classes in 2016 for the whole year and that some peer tutoring will occur with the Junior children to start them on their cooking and gardening journey of discovery and fun.
This Program would not be possible without  the dedication of many staff especially the enthusiasm and tireless energy of Mrs Sharon Dawson.