Degustation – “Joy of the Taste”, The Junior Entrepreneurs!
You’ve heard of Stephanie Alexander one of this country’s iconic chefs and author of a number of books on the gentle art of haute cuisine, well pretty good food cooking anyway. About ten years back our Stephanie was pondering the benefits of teaching primary kids how veggies got from the garden onto the plate. Now this sounds basic but what if those boys and girls could actually plant seeds nurture the plant and finally pick some, bring too the kitchen and prepare a meal! The ‘seeds had been sewn’ in Stephanie’s head and began the first experimental Kitchen Garden at a college in Melbourne. From a small beginning in 2004 the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation has spread across the nation as far as our own school here on the island.
In 2008 the school principal’s application to participate in the Kitchen Garden scheme was approved by the Foundation and a process began to select a kitchen and garden specialist, identify a suitable location and start to involve classes 3 to 6 with their teachers. Jude and Jon quickly proved to be specialists and the journey began.
As you can imagine there was lots to do; food preparation and cooking equipment was ordered and the school kitchen had an upgrade. In the meantime Jon looked around for a suitable spot to turn a sod and one acceptable to the Principle. Weather was a big factor especially wind and sunshine to say nothing of the soil. A stroke of genius and support from all involved sited the gardening a well protected space between the kitchen and class rooms. Raised bed ‘boxes’ were made with split pine logs and soil fertilised ready for planting. Now the idea was for the garden to be self-sufficient, this meant starting a seed bank, worm farm and compost, taking the cuttings for replanting, grafting and conserving water.
Classes come to the garden every Monday and Tuesday. Seed planting continues throughout the years but after around ten weeks those little ‘critters’ are ready to pick – onions, leeks, spinach, tomatoes,beans, radish, boc choy, cauliflowers and a range of herbs. Meanwhile current kitchen specialist Judy is preparing the Menu for next week’s meals giving classes time to select veggies. Under Judy’s watchful eye each class learns to prepare and present a meal- cook pasta, gnocchi, rice and muffins or pancakes for dessert.
Reading, writing and arithmetic are basic but when you add nurturing the soil, propagating seeds, planting veggies and cooking a meal- What Can I Say?
This article was written by Gus in the 3rd June 2011 Island News.