Term one at Austins Ferry Primary disappeared all too quickly! One minute we were drowning under the abundance of tomatoes, the next we were clearing the beds ready for beans.

Whilst our focus now is on sustainability, our focus in term one surrounded the transformative process of how plants from the garden turn into delicious meals.

We encouraged the students to think about how the seeds and seedlings planted by themselves and classmates transform into the tasty meals prepared by our small kitchen team.

At Austin’s Ferry kitchen-garden classes run as follows, three quarters of the class work in the garden, whilst the other quarter goes into the kitchen to cook for the whole class. The kitchen team gathers a few fresh ingredients before heading into the kitchen, whilst the remainder of the ingredients are brought in by the garden team usually just as they sit down to the meal crafted by their peers (these ingredients are then used in the following class). Before everyone eats, the kitchen team describes the meal and all its ingredients, highlighting all the vegetables from the garden. In an effort to help their peers, the students even construct decorative table pieces with extra vegies to ensure the origins of the dishes cannot be forgotten!

Aside from the bursting pride we see coming from the students when they talk about their garden and what they have accomplished, we have begun to see a shift in the understanding of the origins of ingredients and the basic nature of a cooked meal. Students come running in exclaiming that, “I picked that tomato” or “I planted that garlic” even though it’s on top of a steaming focaccia freshly pulled from the oven. When students are asked where certain vegetables or ingredients come from, instead of hearing answers like “from the shop”, we are greeted by “from a farm”, “from the garden”, or even “from the soil”!

However, term one wasn’t all serious learning and shifting paradigms, we had our fair share of fun too. The “Guess the weight of the giant zucchini” competition and picnics in the garden were but just some of the highlights.

Of course magical transformations take place in the garden as well as in the kitchen. Nysha, our garden specialist, takes the time to highlight and explain the large and small changes taking place in the soil, in the compost, with animals and plants within the garden. Students see for themselves each time they enter the garden the natural changes taking place and the rewards of their hard work.

This term the expanding and ever-transforming garden became an even more inclusive area for learning with our coordinator beginning to use the space for intense garden-based science lessons for the older grades. In these lessons Judy Ormerod has been highlighting the transformation process of school waste into compost and the subsequent transformation of the compost into food through a variety of fun activities.

Now with winter approaching we are looking forward to building on an already positive year, with the enthusiasm from the students it should be as easy as transforming tomatoes into tomato sauce!