9 November 2023

The Kitchen Garden Café

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The Kitchen Garden Café
The Kitchen Garden Café
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The Kitchen Garden Program is a truly great example of the many wonderful things happening in our Junior Schools at Carey. The program currently involves all students in Year 3 at Junior School Kew in a year-long experience in which they are introduced to the processes involved in growing, harvesting and preparing their own food. In the process, students are also learning valuable lessons in self-sufficiency and sustainability.

The program is currently run by Eleanor Burns (kitchen), Helen Dimitropoulos (kitchen) and Lanyin Tsai (garden) with support from classroom teachers Angela Straford, Sarah Lennox and Belinda Burr.

Each week in the Kitchen Garden Program, students are introduced to new menus with the opportunity to engage in all the processes involved in the preparation of foods contained in the menu for the week. Students also receive tuition and guidance in the development of key skills involved in the preparation of food, including the use of tools involved in slicing, peeling, blending and cooking different types of food. Menus vary from week to week depending on the availability of produce in the garden, and students share the food they have prepared as part of their lesson. On alternate weeks they also spend time in the garden where they learn about growing different types of food plants, and how they contribute to the menus they prepare in their cooking sessions. On the day of a cooking session, students go into the garden themselves to harvest food they need for the session.

The year-long program culminates in a special luncheon, the Kitchen Garden Café, for parents and special guests, including the Principal, Mr Walter, at the end of the year. A great deal of planning and preparation goes into the luncheon which provides students with the opportunity to practice skills in collaboration, teamwork, organisation, presentation and communication, as well as the wealth of skills they have learnt throughout the year in the production and preparation of food. Students are given the opportunity to vote on what they would like to cook for their parents in the café, with time spent in lessons preparing those foods that can be made ahead of time, writing invitations to parents/guardians/grandparents, and creating the placemats which also include the menu. On the day of the café, students complete their food preparation, organise the classroom to look like a restaurant, set the tables and provide service to their invited guests. Some of the students are also involved in presentations including an Acknowledgement of Country, a welcome to guests, an expression of thanks to people involved in the development and support of the program, a blessing to everyone present for the café and a toast to the Kitchen Garden Program. The program this year involved a total of 72 Year 3 students across three classes.

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Carey has committed to extending the Kitchen Garden program to Year 4 students next year. This is a wonderful acknowledgement of the incredible work of all staff involved in securing the success of the program, especially Eleanor, Helen and Lanyin. We would also like to acknowledge the work of our parent helpers who have been so supportive in giving up their own time to contribute to the running of the program. And, of course, a huge thank you to all 72 of our fantastic Year 3 students at Junior School Kew for an absolutely amazing Kitchen Garden Café 2023.

The new Year 4 program will engage students in learning about indigenous plants and some of the ways in which First Peoples maintained sustainable practices that allowed them to live in harmony with the Earth for thousands of years without disruption to their ecosystems. The program will also incorporate flavours from the bush in the food students prepare during cooking lessons. As in the case of the Year 3 program, the Year 4 program will include a final celebration at the end of the year with a garden party for parents and special guests to enjoy our outdoor learning space and food prepared by the students.

Julie Wetherbee
Leader – Sustainability Programs and Experiential Learning

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