All-staff kitchen garden training day at Hillvue Public School

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A beautiful Gamilaraay welcome from Kamilaroi elder, Simon Taylor, set the community tone for a wonderful all-staff kitchen garden training day at Hillvue Public School in Tamworth, New South Wales, last month.

The F-6 school has been running the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program since March 2014. All the staff at the school are encouraged to embrace the kitchen garden philosophy and utilise the kitchen and garden spaces. This whole-school approach allows the benefits of pleasurable food education to expand beyond the Program and spread throughout the entire school.

Hillvue Public School was looking for an invigorating and empowering training day for staff. The primary school wanted to give staff the opportunity to enjoy a fun day of team-building and allow them to come together to explore the potential of their kitchen garden program, taking into consideration its whole-school approach.

After discussing the school’s needs and collaborating on the aims of the training day, the Foundation’s training team tailored and delivered a unique professional development session. The day included kitchen and garden sessions that reconnected staff to the Program’s potential for hands-on learning across all year levels, provided a deeper understanding of pleasurable food education and inspired individuals to identify ways in which they, personally, could be more involved.

The one-day training session was action-packed with discussions and activities.

In the garden, staff took part in hands-on activities making seed spheres and newspaper planting pots for growing broad beans and peas, as well as building teepees. They also created artworks from leaf pressings and textural rubbings.

Meanwhile, the group of staff in the kitchen session discussed and explored the merits of vegetarian dishes compared to meat-based ones, and prepared an exquisite mid-winter Italian feast: pasta with cauliflower, kale, pine nuts and chilli; ricotta and parmesan gnocchi with tomato passata; freshly baked focaccia; and a knock-out sweet potato torte.

Included in the menu was Salad of the Imagination (a leafy green garden salad) and Risotto of the Imagination (with school-grown pumpkin and broccoli) – both kitchen garden program staples that rely on an imaginative approach to choosing and using the fresh, seasonal ingredients available.

Both the school staff and the Foundation team were happy to report that the aims of the training day had been fulfilled.

“It was a great day for all the year level teaching teams to come together,” said Hillvue Public School kitchen teacher, Wendy Boreham.

Kitchen Garden Foundation Project Officer, Betty Vassiliou, observed: “Previously, the F–2 teachers weren’t very involved. The teachers walked away with confidence and enthusiasm, believing they can do it.”

Staff reported the kitchen garden program had played a key role in supporting the wellbeing of students.

“It’s the perfect environment to introduce children to fresh seasonal food. A great platform for healthy food choices for the future,” said a Hillvue teacher who teaches Years 3–4.

Hillvue Public School’s Amy Strong discussed plans to create a library of Kamilaroi words that connect with the kitchen and garden. The Foundation looks forward to seeing how Amy integrates the local Aboriginal language through pleasurable food education.

Would your school or centre benefit from all-staff kitchen garden professional development?

Find out how we can customise whole-school training specifically for your needs – just get in touch with the Support Team on or 13000 SAKGF (13000 72543

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