Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia


Creating kitchen gardens

Horticulturists from the Royal Botanic Garden joined forces with 30 New England teachers at Thalgarrah Environmental Education Centre, Armidale recently to focus on growing food at schools.

Sessions included productive produce, worm farming and composting, natural pest and disease control, visual arts in the food garden and how to link this to the school curriculum. Veggie gardening is the real ‘back to basics’ of learning life skills. UK research shows that children respond positively to gardening at school, learning to be resilient and responsible.

Teachers such as Mrs Beattie from Inverell appreciated all the ‘informative and practical ideas’. According to Ms Williams from Bundarra: ‘Now I have an improved understanding of how to link gardening to the curriculum so the next step is to organise teaching units' and Ms Hancock from Warialda saw ‘new possibilities for the children being more engaged’. Ms O’Hara from Armidale ‘was worried about potentially using chemicals on the produce but the pest control workshop was brilliant in identifying alternatives’. Ms Crawford Walcha appreciated ‘design ideas as well as systems for continuing the veggie garden and composting throughout the school year’. ‘How to use the garden in art lessons’ was important to Ms Toms from Tingha.

Thalgarrah school office manager Mrs Moloney demonstrated how a lunch menu could be created featuring the ‘Five Veg and Two Fruit a Day’ message of NSW Health’s Live Life Well program for schools. Mrs Moloney selected recipes that children could follow at school. Teachers appreciated the links from food growing and preparation at school to health and sustainability in the curriculum.






(L to R) Susan Elgar from Armidale and Leanne Savage from Black Mountain discuss details of worm farming with Felicity Tyson from the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney.
(L to R) Thalgarrah Principal Matt McKenzie, Julie Kennelly, Liz Docking, Felicity Tyson and Phil Pettit were presenters at the Creating Kitchen Gardens workshop for teachers.