With help from local community organisations, nationwide food education programme Garden to Table has today launched in the Bay of Plenty region, giving primary and intermediate schools the opportunity to learn about food, horticulture and their natural environment.

Already part of the curriculum at 115 schools throughout the country, Garden to Table works by teaching children necessary life skills through practical, hands-on, child-centric classes. Students cook delicious nutritious meals every week, where they learn how grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh food.

Schools have an option of the online programme and a more intensive, facilitated version, where they receive significant support and training from programme coordinators and trainers.

Two local schools in the region – Gate Pa and Oropi School – have launched the full Garden to Table programme while further schools are signing up to its online platform. Additional schools are set to follow in term two.

Organisations and businesses in the region, such as Tui Garden Products and The Good Neighbour Trust, have banded together to bring the programme to the area. The Good Neighbour Trust have helped to provide purpose built gardens which use a wicking layering system that has proven to be an excellent resource for other community gardens. The organisation has also provided equipment on the day of the garden build for volunteers.

Gate Pa has received numerous donations from parents and members of the community, while Oropi’s garden received support from Balance Agri-Nutrients and NZ Manuka Seaweeds who have donated mulch to the school.

T&G Global, Garden to Table’s National Growing Partner, is supporting Oropi School as part of its community programme which provides support and educational opportunities to children with a focus on health and nutrition, while Compac Sorting will fund a further school in the region to join the programme.

Gate Pa School Principal Richard Inder says parents and members of the community have been incredibly generous and supportive of the initiative, which is already popular with students.

“We have substantial vegetable gardens on the school grounds and are pleased the children will be able to benefit by learning gardening and cooking skills, which will set them up for a healthy lifestyle in the future,” says Inder. “Parents and members of the community have been donating spare utensils, such as microwaves, pots and pans and other equipment and are doing all they can to help which is great to see.”

Likewise, Oropi School Principal Andrew King has been overwhelmed by the community support.

“It makes me feel immensely privileged to be a part of such a supportive community, and to now be able to offer our pupils a programme that has enjoyed such success in other parts of the country,” says King.

Through its programme, the Garden to Table Trust has been changing the way children approach and think about food since it was first established as a registered charity in 2008.

Garden to Table executive officer Linda Taylor says Garden to Table schools nationwide have reported on the benefits of the programme and Bay of Plenty will undoubtedly follow suit.

“Schools with Garden to Table report more engaged learning, lower absentee rates on Garden to Table days, and an increased number of children growing and cooking cost-effective and sustainable good food at home,” says Taylor.

“With this most recent launch in Bay of Plenty, the Garden to Table Trust is closer to achieving its goal of providing hands-on garden and kitchen learning to every child in New Zealand.”

Taylor says the programme empowers not only school children but a whole community around them to develop their own creative solutions and take pride in themselves and their environment.

“With childhood obesity an increasing health issue in New Zealand, Garden to Table delivers a long-term solution to a myriad of health challenges facing our country by encouraging every child in New Zealand to learn how to grow, harvest, prepare and share good food through an ongoing, curriculum-integrated programme.

Garden to Table is committed to encouraging schools, parents and local businesses to take part in the programme, to ensure as many children as possible can enjoy its benefits.

To learn more about Garden to Table or enquire about it at your school,
visit http://gardentotable.org.nz/.

About the Garden to Table Trust

The Garden to Table Trust was established in 2008 as a registered charity, to facilitate a programme, delivered in New Zealand primary schools, focussed on food education for children aged between seven and 12. They have the opportunity to participate in practical, hands-on, child centric classes that teach them how to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, seasonal produce.

The Trust’s curriculum integrated programme educates children about food, horticulture and their natural environment. Students work in small groups under the supervision of specialist staff, community volunteers and their teachers,

Consequently they learn about the environment and sustainability and enrich their curriculum subjects through hands-on, interactive learning. The programme also has many positive spin-offs for family and community life.

The Trust, co-founded by food writer Catherine Bell, was modelled on Australia’s well-documented Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Programme. Seven years on, the Garden to Table programme now supports 115 schools across the country, providing the opportunity for close to 8000 children every week to engage in this practical programme.



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