Thriving kitchen garden program at Moorland Public School | photos

Moorland Public School students are digging in and getting their hands dirty.

The school has joined the increasing number of schools growing food in their own gardens by starting a kitchen garden at the beginning of term two this year. 

“It began by just talking to other schools that have Stephanie Alexander kitchen programs going, but we don’t have that, we just implemented it ourselves,” said Rachel Buttsworth, the school’s SLSO (student learning support office) and kitchen garden co-ordinator.

Bunnings donated a raised garden bed for the project, with the school creating additional beds themselves. 

“We didn’t want to start it off too big, we just wanted to start off small and make it grow, make it successful,” Rachel said. 

And successful it is. On a five children every five weeks cycle, all of the students get to participate.

“We do four weeks of maintenance, planting, watering and fertilising and on the fifth week of having the same students we cook in the canteen, hopefully utliising some of the produce,” Rachel said.

“Last term we made Vietnamese rice rolls, and then we made them for the whole school. So it’s not just for the five kids, we make them for the whole 40 kids, and they get to try something that they don’t usually have.

“We also taste test. For instance we have the radishes and the pimply squash - we harvest them and we cook them and then we share them with the kids, so they are tasting different things.”

The cycle then starts again with a group of five new students.

A recent addition to the garden is a worm farm donated by Midwaste.

“We’ve only had the worm farm a fortnight. It’s just starting off; it’s a learning experience for us all,” Rachel said.

“I went to a Midwaste course about a month ago. They kindly donated a worm farm and a compost bin to the school. We are aiming to get the worm farm up and running first before I start on the compost.”

As for plants, the school is reliant on donations and self-funding.

“Some local families have given us some seeds and things, and Bunnings have been very good to us. Earlier in the year I sent out letters, and they came on. And Wingham Nursery is going to come on later in the year, so that will be good,” Rachel said.

“The seedlings we have at the moment were donated by Bunnings. But other than that we just purchase them ourselves, or grow seeds ourselves. We’re looking for help if people want to donate seedlings randomly throughout the year!”