Research shows kids involved in growing their own fruits and vegetables are far more likely to achieve their necessary 2 and 5 serves a day, and are happier to try new foods if they have been involved in growing them.
Combine hands-on experience in a food garden with classroom education, and you have a recipe for school communities who can make better food choices for a healthier future.
One Healthy Eats school in North Queensland – Jubilee Christian College, are big believers in the benefits of a school garden and are home to a spectacular example, right in the heart of the campus.
Very much a community-based project – the garden is supervised and regularly tended by a dedicated group of parent and student volunteers who agree their garden is a key ingredient in growing their healthy school food environment.
Garden club member and Prep teacher Rebecca says there is never a need for a volunteer roster – plenty of students, staff and parents are more than happy to be involved in caring for the garden.
“The garden has been established for at least five years and during that time we have never had a list of students who must attend garden club. Enthusiastic students just tend to gravitate to it,” Rebecca said.
The garden is so successful, it often supplies fresh herbs such as oregano, basil and mint to the hospitality student’s cooking classes and when produce is in abundance, fruits and veggies from the garden are also used in student recipes.
Krystal Walmsley, a parent at the school regularly volunteers in the garden and feels it is a very important part of Jubilee Christian College life.
“As parents we think the garden is really important for our kids – they learn so much from being involved – responsibility, sustainability, nutrition and the satisfaction of growing your own food. It’s also a great social activity.”
The kids love to be involved too – Year 2 student Jessica is a regular garden club member and says she loves being in the garden.
“I like being in garden club because we can plant some new plants such as beetroot, corn and beans. I like learning about them,” Jessica said.
Strawberries, corn, carrots, beans, celery, beetroot and lettuces are just some of the fruits and vegetables raised from seeds by the dedicated and enthusiastic garden club volunteers, with the produce made available to all families at the school for as little as a gold coin donation.
“It never ceases to amaze me how this element of our school can have such a far-reaching influence on so many aspects of our community,” said Rebecca.
The Life Education Healthy Eats program and the hands-on experience of the Jubilee Christian College Garden are a perfect complement in both organisation’s mission to grow healthier kids and communities through better nutrition.