Kororāreka Russell School is delighted to introduce the Garden to Table programme to our tamariki. I am pleased to have been involved and working hard behind the scenes to get the Garden to Table programme up and running at Russell School. And, of course, we are so fortunate to have a very passionate and knowledgeable gardener extraordinaire, Mandy Cleland, who established and tends to our marvellous garden.
The programme is provided by the Garden to Table Charitable Trust and includes curriculum-integrated gardening and cooking sessions where students grow, cook and eat fresh food they have prepared themselves. Garden to Table is a skills-based food education programme that has been working in primary schools for over a decade. The charitable trust currently works with 188 schools across Aotearoa New Zealand, supporting over 13,000 students each week to grow, cook and eat nourishing, vegetable-based meals. Students develop cooking and gardening skills while increasing their consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, linking their learning to the school curriculum, develop food resilience and take their learning home.
Garden to Table sessions are scheduled within the curriculum in the same way as a PE lesson, and whole classes take part together. A Garden to Table session takes 90 minutes with two additional staff members – the Kitchen Instructor and the Garden Instructor – deliver the Garden to Table session supported by volunteers. This allows the teacher to focus on learning outcomes for the students in the kitchen and garden, using curriculum resources developed by Garden to Table’s curriculum team.
During a Garden to Table session the class is split in half. During the first hour, half the class works in the garden, which includes harvesting the produce required to cook the day’s menu, while the other half works in the kitchen to cook the menu for the day. The following week, the groups swap between the kitchen and garden. During the final 30 minutes the students come together to sit and share the meal they have created.
WEEK ONE: Tuesday, 8 September 2020
This week in our first Garden to Table session Cole, Mackenzie, Sydney, Max, John, Hoori, Rikki-Dean, Honour and Logan learnt about the emulsification process by making some delicious mayonnaise (albeit with varying results). We used the eggs from our hens Michelle Chookson and Cluckles. In our next session we will be adding our moreish mayo to a coleslaw with cabbage and herbs from our school garden and a Spanish inspired potato/kūmara salad.
WEEK TWO: Monday, 14 September 2020
This week in our Garden to Table session Hamish, Caleb and Diego turned our moreish mayo into three delectable potato and kūmara salads – our cabbage wasn’t quite ready to harvest:
• Potato Salad with mayonnaise, raw green beans, spring onion, parsley and thyme.
• Beauregard (orange) Kūmara Salad with Spanish paprika mayonnaise, raw green beans, chives and spring onion.
• Ōwairaka (red) Kūmara Salad with mayonnaise, raw green beans, chives, spring onion and parsley. Thank you Rikki-Dean for saying grace before we tried our tasting plate.
One of the greatest joys thus far has to be bumping into a student who was shopping after school for ingredients to show his Dad how easy it is to make mayonnaise. He told me that he was never going to buy mayonnaise again. I feel very privileged to be a part of those realworld learning experiences, not only do the children learn necessary life skills, they develop a sense of pride and self-worth. What a simple pleasure to share newfound skills with friends and whanau to create memories to savour.
Diego ambitiously suggested we make a meal for the entire school and Room 1 have taken up the challenge for Term 4. Sharing meals around the table has been sustained throughout history and ties us to our families and communities. Growing, harvesting, preparing, sharing and enjoying a meal together not only nourishes; it provides a sense of belonging.
Room 1 has already shown their capability in the kitchen by preparing a delicious meal in our second week of Term 4 consisting of hummus with homemade flatbread, salad of the imagination and home-made dressing, a flavoursome nutrient-dense vegetable risotto packed with tasty veg and herbs from our garden and a thirst-quenching lemon balm, ginger and herb-infused drink. Logan, Diego, Hamish, John and Caleb managed to harvest, prepare, and share this feast in less than 90 minutes and managed to tidy up too. Phenomenal effort lads!
Environment and sustainability are synonymous with our magnificent teacher Mrs Young who has recently introduced a beehive to our school garden. The Year 6 and 7 children were buzzing with the news that they would be participating in an apiarist course so they could look after the bees themselves. Russell School was the lucky recipient of a Northland Regional Council Environmental Grant which allowed us to purchase a hive, basic equipment and bee suits for the children. By studying honeybees and other pollinators, children can learn about the importance of a healthy food supply and begin developing the skills necessary to act as kaitiaki, stewards of the environment, especially the dwindling honey bee population. Providing our children with opportunities to understand, engage and learn from honey bees, in order to connect with the natural environment, develops Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) skills.
We are fortunate to have some wonderful involvement from members of the community who help out in the school garden and with our three very productive worm farms. The liquid gold super-rich fertiliser can be purchased from the front office for your garden and pot plants. Our wishlist for the future is to establish a fantastic composting system, build a bigger and better chicken palace, plant some rongoā plants and more mandarin trees. Russell School already has approximately 80 fruit trees consisting of citrus, feijoa, guava, peach and avocado; our aim is to ensure we have enough productive trees to supply our students with their daily fruit for morning tea. 2020 has highlighted the absolute necessity to put resources into schools to help teach simple skills and enable children to eat the food they grow themselves and understand a healthy diet.
From the Principal …
Our goal at Kororāreka Russell School is to ensure that every child is connected to their community, their environment, their history and their future. Our strategic plan for 2021-2023 involves growing connectedness through a localised curriculum and creating opportunities for student-led learning. As you can see our garden is becoming busier and busier as we use it to enhance the classroom programme. The Garden to Table programme creates opportunities for children to learn about soil health, water usage, the growth cycle of plants, weather conditions, nutrition, financial literacy, cooking and measurement. We are able to use this beautiful area of our school to teach science, maths, technology, health and English. We will look for opportunities to integrate the arts, Te Reo me Te Ao Māori and the social sciences. In 2021 one of our key initiatives is to develop our place-based curriculum, meaning that our children learn in our environment. If you think that you would like to be part of this, and you have knowledge, skills or resources to share, please be in touch and we can discuss opportunities. I would like to thank the children of Room 1 who have provided us with so much delicious kai; Mrs Young and Lara for their energy and enthusiasm; Claire and Mandy who continue to make sure our garden is healthy and abundant and Fran who looks after the worms.
Quotes from the children at Russell School …
Ruby (Y5) In my Digital Technology group we are exploring how to create an automatic irrigation system to water the garden. I am excited to learn more about how to do this and see it come to life in the garden.
Connor (Y6) I learnt that the queen is longer, not fatter and that is how you identify the queen bee.
Bernie (Y5) Gardening with Mandy is really good because she tells us what to do and we can follow what she says but do it our own way.
Logan (Y7) The best part of Garden to Table this term was making the flatbread because I kinda knew what I was doing. I made lots of naan bread during lockdown.
Caleb (Y8) My favourite thing was the potato salad because we made everything from scratch including the mayonnaise. It was like a full cafeteria meal.
Hamish (Y8) It is good that we get the whole class to eat together and to try new foods.
Nico (Y4) I am looking forward to learning how to make delicious food and tasting some new vegetables and recipes.
by Lara Tauri