Charitable “Foodies” – Kitchen Garden Foundation
Monday, 19th September 2005 at 1:09 pm
International chefs have many reputations for their food, their restaurants, their TV shows, their books and even their philanthropy. Many may know Jamie Oliver’s work with UK youth, but our own Stephanie Alexander has been digging away on a project set to change the way young people think about their food!
Stephanie Alexander is a culinary icon in Australia. This month she launched the Kitchen Garden Foundation showing off a project very close to her heart at the Collingwood College, a government primary school in inner Melbourne that nestles in the shadows of a large assisted-housing estate.
Amidst a lush garden bursting with herbs and vegetable produce and grade three and four children cooking up a storm, her Foundation was born. It exists to develop life-long healthier and happy eating habits in a new generation of Australians by engaging them in growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing delicious and healthy food at primary school.
A tall order but Stephanie says the reward is to witness the enthusiasm of children passing around a plate of delicious food they have grown and prepared themselves.
If the potato salad with roasted pumpkin, capers, radicchio and baby cos lettuce that was on the Launch Day menu was anything to go by, the ‘best-practice’ model at Collingwood College is on a winner.
Stephanie says the Foundation relies totally on the generosity and shared vision and commitment of schools, volunteers, government, business and individuals.
Her short term goal is to set up three new Kitchen Garden projects in Victorian primary schools and assess their impact by 2008.
In the long term she wants to see the Kitchen Garden model and approach to learning integrated into the wider primary school curriculum.
The young students learn to work co-operatively, to respect each other, the plants and the volunteers and then they share their meals together around a table.
Each kitchen Garden program employs a specialised cook and gardener and the Foundations provides the ongoing management support and guidance to the partnering school. Volunteers are also critical to the program’s success.
Stephanie Alexander says the program cost is now approximately $60,000 per annum, of which the largest item is the cost of the part-time specialist staff.
The Foundation is interested to hear from any Australian schools if they are already doing something similar via its web site at Http://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au.