Do you know where your food comes from? At Drove Primary School, we’re teaching our pupils how to grow, harvest, prepare, and share food from scratch.
The Garden to Table project, founded in New Zealand, is an innovative model of food education where pupils spend time in a vegetable garden growing and harvesting food, as well as spending alternate sessions in a home-style kitchen learning practical cooking skills.
By joining in, Drove becomes the first school in the Northern Hemisphere to be a part of the project.
At our school, we already run a life-skills programme in which key stage 2 pupils learn how to prepare and cook food safely. In joining the Garden to Table project, we will expand the programme to include growing some of our own fruits and vegetables.
Once the project is fully underway, our pupils will learn how to make food at every stage of production: harvesting the produce they planted and grew themselves before learning how to turn it into tasty dishes in the kitchen.
Being a part of the New Zealand-based initiative gives us access to a range of resources, including an online community of Garden to Table schools in the Southern Hemisphere to share our story with.
In addition, we already have many of the resources needed to ramp up the project, including a greenhouse and raised beds funded by a grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
Three years ago, Marilyn Dunn, principal of Ruakaka School in New Zealand, visited Drove. Recently, during her sabbatical, our principal, Helen Swanson, visited North Island and got in touch with Marilyn to arrange a return visit.
On her trip, Helen was able to see the Garden to Table project first hand, which inspired her to bring the initiative all the way to Swindon.
Ruakaka School is located in a diverse, rural community. Te Reo Maori is spoken in all classrooms, and the school provides a bilingual education that reflects the different cultural identities in the area. This was of particular interest to Mrs Swanson, given the diverse makeup of our own school community.
In order for our children to learn how to eat healthily and responsibly, it is important that they learn where their food comes from and how it is made. It also helps them understand their own part in making the world a more eco-friendly place.
Mrs Swanson said: “The only way we can bring about change in the world in which we live is to raise the children's awareness so that they become the catalyst for change in their own family and wider community. This project provides some of the knowledge and understanding of the changes we need to make.”
We’d like to thank everyone at the amazing Ruakaka School in New Zealand for their warm welcome. We’re really excited to be a part of this amazing project and we can’t wait to get digging!