Visiting Toomelah Public School a green thumb is evident in the lovingly cared for vegetable gardens, built and tended to by the students under the new Stephanie Alexander program.
The Program described as “pleasurable food education” is currently run in schools throughout Australia and is designed to educate students on seasonal, fresh food including gardening and cooking and is being taught at Toomelah Public School from Kindergarten to Grade Five, led by experienced teacher Kate Gleeson.
In talking to Kate it is clear to see the excitement she shares for the project and its possibilities.
“Not only does this program encourage students to make healthier choices in regards to food, it also teaches the students teamwork, responsibility, patience and persistence. “
Starting from scratch the students have tended to the seedlings, built a worm farm, built the garden beds and sourced the soil and mulch, replanting and watering its clear the pride the students have in their budding garden project and have just experienced their first Snow Pea Harvest.
“It’s fantastic to see the children’s faces when they see the seeds start to germinate, when they flower and then when they start to produce vegetables.
This year the school intends to grow produce that each student can then take home to their family, allowing the benefits of the program to filter through to the families and greater community as well.
Stephanie Alexander is a fluid program tailored to the students interests whilst still incorporating elements of the curriculum. The children benefiting differently from different aspects of the course whether that be the practical side; mulching, cooking, planting seeds or the creative aspects; artworks, writing and the use of song.
Programs like Stephanie Alexander, and the After School Sport Program currently running at Toomelah harness the students creativity, engaging their imaginations and utilising practical skills, fostering a real love of learning.
With a community garden planned for Toomelah to be built later in the year within the school grounds, but accessible to the whole community hopefully the children can take their learnings from the Stephanie Alexander initiative at school and act as positive role models for the rest of the community, growing together.