JUNIOR GARDENERS: Victory Primary School pupils get ready to plant some potatoes as part of the Garden to Table programme. From left are: Ella Hawkins, 9, Piper Balloch, 8, Lily Par, 8, Moss Nevin, 7, Awatini Dooley, 8 and Miles Campbell, 7. Photo: Kate Russell.

Victory kids learn to grow their own food

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Victory Primary School kids will be feasting on potatoes, peas, beans, radishes and carrots this summer – and they are sure to taste even better knowing they have grown them themselves.

The school has been running the successful Garden to Table programme for the last year-and-a-half, and children are getting ready to plant a bumper crop of summer vegetables.

Garden to Table aims to teach seven to 12-year-olds how to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, seasonal food in the school environment, and Victory is the only school in Nelson to offer the programme.

The middle syndicate get the chance to help in the garden twice a term, with six cooking sessions a year, and their hard work results in delicious meals they sit down together to eat.

Seven-year-old Miles Campbell says “its fun” and admits he now likes broccoli, while eight-year-old Awatini Dooley says she now eats carrots because of the programme.

Apple muffins, pizza, carrot salad, soup and pasta are just some of the dishes the children have made so far.

Sarah Garlick, kitchen and garden facilitator and teacher aide at the school, says it’s amazing seeing the children learning gardening skills and enjoying new foods.

“I had one mum say to me that her child eats kale now after growing it, and one child who never ate zucchini ended up loving the zucchini fritters we made – their mum couldn’t believe it,” she says. “It’s also just about doing that hands on stuff – one group sets the table, one does dishes – it’s about eating and sharing the food together.”

Next up for planting are a range of potatoes, which have been supplied for free by Fiesta Bulbs, who just have announced a partnership with Garden to Table.

They are also growing seeds in their classroom at the moment, which they will soon transfer into the garden.

Teacher Susan Richards, who is also the programme liaison, says she’s seen the programme light a passion for gardening and cooking in many of the children.

“The biggest thing for me is seeing how it engages some of the children – and there is so much learning going on,” she says.

The cooking sessions take place at the Victory Community Centre kitchen and Sarah says they are always looking for people to help out with these, or with the gardening. “It’s quite an endeavour to have 30 children cooking at once, so we always appreciate volunteers, and you don’t need to be a school parent to do it.”

If you are interested in helping out with the Garden to Table programme, you can contact the school on 548 4779.

Fiesta Bulbs will also be making a donation to Garden to Table from every pack purchased in their Fiesta Seed Potatoes range.