The Growing Good Gardeners lunch held at the Kitchen Cabinet on the 20th of March highlighted the gardening and cooking skills of the Majura and Berrima Primary Schools both of which are participating in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Scheme. Originally started in Victorian schools in 2001 the program is now being expanded by the Australian Government to enable up to 190 eligible Australian schools to participate by 2012.
The fundamental philosophy that underpins the program is that by setting good examples and engaging children’s innate curiosity, as well as their energy and their taste buds, a positive and memorable food experience can be provided and this will form the basis of positive lifelong eating habits. At present there are 180 schools participating, it seems a lot of schools but the reality is that there are just some 7,800 primary schools in Australia so the scheme is only reaching a very small fraction of Australian kids. Majura Primary is currently the only ACT school in the program. However there was no doubt about the level of excitement of the children who are already participating in the scheme and who gave presentations on the day.
In addition to great displays of produce and work undertaken by the kids from the two schools their gardens, along with Allsun and Ingelara Farms, provided all the garden produce that was used for the lunch.
The patron of the Kitchen Garden Foundation, Stephanie Alexander, was the key speaker. Stephanie summarised her aims for the program as producing “care in the garden and deliciousness on the plate”. The teachers and students from both schools spoke, as did Joyce Wilkie and Michael Plane from Allsun Farms. The kids were enthusiatic about the food they grew and what they cooked. One young wit noted that the home made hamburgers they cooked were so good that they just had to have seconds.
The food for the event was also very different in presentation from previous Kitchen Cabinet events we’ve been to. A tasting platter for entree included Baba ghanoush, Italian party cocktail sticks, beetroot carpaccio, antipasto vegetables, sweet corn fritters, sweet and sour pumpkin with mint and onion tart.
After that we weren’t sure if we could get the 11 different elements of the mains in.
Not to mention 3 dessert options …
We certainly all needed a good stint in the garden afterwards to work all that food off.