In 2007 Kallista Primary School were fortunate to be chosen to join the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program due to its commitment to their permaculture garden and strong community involvement.
Kallista Primary School created school Permaculture Garden with a potting shed in 1998. This was managed by parents who supported the teachers and children. Joining the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program in 2007 has given us renewed energy, skills, support and a small amount of funding to employ specialist staff. The children, parents, community volunteers and teachers have worked under the leadership of a part-time garden specialist, Jennie, to create our wonderful flourishing kitchen garden as it is today.
At Kallista we are trying to instil in our children the simple knowledge of the garden and the cycle of growth that we seem to have overlooked in our busy modern lifestyles. Simple things like the seasonal changes and the various fruit, vegetables and flowers, and how our diets are changed according to those seasons. We look for seasonal indicators (like daffodils signalling the end of Winter… Chestnut blossoms closer to Christmas)..and are aware of what is planted in the garden at different times of the year..and what is harvested in the garden marking different seasons or times (like Raspberries at Christmas).
Our children as adults
There is nothing as therapeutic after a stressful day’s work than pottering in the garden. To many people, this is a scary prospect because they have had little or no exposure to gardening as children. At Kallista we’re teaching simple skills in the garden which hopefully will be carried on into adult life. The children are learning through “osmosis” rather than strict lessons. They pick things up through doing, observing, and being aware of the seasons and the weather. One day they will realise that they have knowledge, but might never really be sure of where or when or how they learnt these things. They will just know instinctively what to do in the garden.
The Garden Programs –
1.Kitchen Garden Program Grades 3-6
Children in Grades 3-6 have a 50 minute weekly session in the vegetable garden working in groups with volunteers.
Hand-in-hand with the garden is our kitchen where we teach the children how to look for specific things growing in the garden…gather them together, and using what is in store in the pantry, quickly cook up something tasty and fresh from what we have on hand.
Twice a term, children in Grades 3-6 spend a 50 minute session planning menus and a day in the kitchen preparing a meal which they all share. Classes are divided into groups and each group of children cooks two to three recipes as part of the shared meal under the guidance of an adult. Vegetables from our school garden are the main ingredients of theses meals. To further challenge the children now, they are sometimes given a surprise ingredient box and they create their own dish without given recipes.
The children sit together and share the meals, then take responsibility of cleaning and tidying up. It is a group effort requiring lots of co-operation and team skills.
Our new kitchen
In 2010 we opened our new children’s kitchen. Made from two relocated classrooms joined together, it has a purpose-built kitchen comprising four fully equipped workstations. At the other end of the room is a dining area leading onto a deck and the garden.
A sense of community is evident as parents, students, teachers, community members and local businesses work together on the Kitchen Garden project for which they are all passionate. The drawing together of people has positive repercussions both for the wider good of the school and the community.