Garden to Table Goes Online

This food initiative has expanded so more schools can get involved


Picture / Guy Coombes. Stylist / Danielle Clausen.

Becoming a Garden To Table ambassador wasn’t a tough decision for Al Brown. During a visit to participating Owairaka District School in Mt Albert, he was impressed by the way the not-for-profit encourages people to work together to grow, harvest, prepare and share food — and not just the children.

“Local restaurants could be contributing food waste to composting and local volunteers can help out in the garden and kitchen,” he says. “If I was retired they wouldn’t be able to get rid of me!”

Since 2009, Garden To Table has launched in 40 primary schools in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Volunteers work with students as they transform the fruits of their green-fingered labour into nutritious dishes. For instance, children at a school in Paptoetoe recently harvested their crop to make kale chips and Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls.

Now a version of the programme has launched online, allowing four new schools in Northland, plus lower decile schools and those in rural areas, the opportunity to get their hands dirty, too.

Garden to Table organisers say it’s not uncommon to hear of kids who struggle in a traditional classroom environment thriving in the programme; many children take home what they learn and share it with their families. And there are countless examples of schools making the programme work their way.

Garden to Table also operates at the foster care facility Dingwall Trust, as well as a bi-lingual class at the decile 1 Roscommon School. Pt Chevalier’s St Francis School even has its own gluten-free cooking class.

The abundance of prepackaged foods means it’s even more important to provide as many children as possible with Garden to Table tools, says Al.

“It’s always been important to me that people understand and respect where their food comes from.”

• For more about the online programme, visit gardentotable.org.nz

Enamel plates, $15 each, vegetable peeler, $22, tea towel, $23, knife, $36, and chopping board, $65, from Father Rabbit. Ph (09) 950 4554. Citta bowl $25. Ph (09) 631 0917.

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New Zealand Herald

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