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New Zealand Science Teacher

Science Education & Society

Growing healthy learners

Government urged to invest in food and sustainability education.

Garden to Table. smallLeft: Children at Peninsula Primary on Te Atatu Peninsula. 

Serious support is needed for in-school food education, says the Garden to Table Trust.

New Zealand is well-placed to provide international leadership in teaching gardening, cooking skills as a way to combat childhood health problems, the Trust also says.

The Garden to Table Trust was established in 2009 to deliver hands-on food, environmental, and sustainability education programmes in New Zealand primary schools.

Recently, British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver launched an online petition challenging all countries to introduce compulsory food education in schools.

“It’s essential that we arm future generations with the life skills they urgently need in order to lead healthier, happier, more productive lives,” he writes. “I passionately believe this is every child’s human right and I hope you agree.”

Garden to Table founding trustee Catherine Bell says New Zealand needs to take its place alongside England, Brazil, Mexico and Japan in implementing a curriculum-based food literacy programme.  The Trust supports Jamie Oliver’s call to arms.

“Jamie Oliver’s global petition urging all governments to offer food education for all children in the world is raising awareness of this need, and we encourage New Zealanders to sign it,” she says.

Garden to Table executive officer Anne Barrowclough says their programme is reaping good results in New Zealand primary schools so far.

“We hear that attendance is always good on Garden to Table days, team work and problem solving skills are developed, and language skills improve, especially for those for whom English is a second language.

“We get feedback from volunteers about cooperation, depth of knowledge and interest in environment and fresh food; and from parents about practical skills that are coming home, the enthusiasm to try new vegetables and suggest new recipes.”

Ms Barrowclough says a curriculum integrated, in-school programme such as Garden to Table is more than just understanding how to make food choices.

“It’s actually about empowering children with a hands-on lesson, full of practical skill development focused on how to action those choices – what you need to grow your own tomatoes, how you follow a recipe, how to cook from fresh ingredients. It also adds immediacy and relevance to science and maths concepts.”

Read more about the Garden to Table Trust, and the programmes they offer here.

Interested teachers, parents, and schools can read blogs about the programme in action in two schools: Edendale and Oaklands.

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