A garden for everyone

St Francis Xavier Primary School has a long history of sustainable education, but becoming a part of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program has given it a new dimension.

The Ballarat East school is one of 22 around the region, and 1500 nationwide, to benefit from a grant which has helped it purchase a range of teaching tools allowing educators and children to learn about nutrition and creating the perfect garden.

This year, the school has taken up the theme of ‘Soil is life’ as part of its efforts to be the face of environment change within the community.

Environmental Education Specialist teacher Sarah Page said the school, which sits on 20 acres of land, has long had a `Perma Patch’ as named by students, but the teachings from the Stephanie Alexander program give it a new lease on life. 

“We’re excited at the prospect of the students getting back out into the garden and getting their hands dirty and learning how to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, organic, seasonal food while learning to mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature,” Mrs Page said.

Mrs Page said tools in the program included ways for children to learn about nutrition, going wrapper free in their lunches and ways to make their own lunch boxes which they can use not just at school but at home as well.

“The school (hopes) that through its actions and incentives we may inspire a strong community spirit where wider communities’ knowledge of environmental issues are also deepened, tools and practices are shared and environmental sustainability becomes a norm, rather than something extra that they have to think about,” she said. 

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation chief executive Rebecca Naylor said there had been great interest from schools around Ballarat.

"After a very successful kitchen garden training day last month in Ballarat, we have had to put on a second Ballarat training day for educators on March 28 to keep up with the demand in the area," Ms Naylor said.

She said it was “fabulous that schools and centres were interested in teaching pleasurable food education”, as it could help children develop positive food habits for life.

“The aim of pleasurable food education is to have children engaged in the food process,” she said.