“Students don’t mind getting their hands dirty,” explains Ms Reid, Head of Primary and Kitchen Garden Program Coordinator at Henderson College. “Even at lunchtimes some students will be out in the garden working and some are now building their own kitchen gardens at home, and also cooking meals at home.”
Henderson College is a small school in Mildura, fortunate to be set in fertile country, amongst orchards and vineyards just five kilometers from the Murray River. Like every school, they aim to build strong connections with the broader community and find different ways to engage children. What better way than utilising this ideal setting for a school vegetable garden to discover budding gardeners and chefs and explore the food themes — growing it, cooking it and sharing it.
The garden, including locally donated fruit and citrus trees began in December 2011 and has helped the school connect with the community and teach a range of important themes, including healthy eating. “The students have thrived with the hands-on nature of the program” says Craig Dunstan, formerly Independent Schools Victoria Smart Schools National Program Advisor to Henderson College.
Henderson College became the first Independent School in Victoria to join the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program, a national program that aims to change the way children approach and think about food. In less than 12 months, Henderson College was making new connections with other schools and the local TAFE’s carpentry, horticulture and hospitality courses, as well as creating wonderful food.
“The students have really taken ownership and pride in the Kitchen Garden Program,” says Ms Reid, “they love it.”
The program is a perfect example of using Australia’s Great Outdoors and designing an educational experience with a difference. The full Journey’s case study ‘Henderson College – Green Thumbs’ can be read at the Independent Schools Victoria website.