Bringing pleasurable food education to Magnetic Island

Monday, March 6, 2017

Eight kilometres off the coast of Townsville, a small island community is on its way to bringing pleasurable food education to its 2000 permanent residents.

Magnetic Island State School, a Prep–Year 7 school with around 150 enrolments, is the sole school on Magnetic Island in tropical north Queensland.  The island school’s small but dedicated Parents and Citizens’ (P&C) Association had been passionately involved in starting up, and growing, its kitchen garden program.

Keen to get the whole school community on board, link the kitchen garden program to the Australian Curriculum, and really dig into how to run the program effectively, the school contacted the Foundation team to discuss a whole-of-staff – and families – professional development day.

Sixteen school staff, including the Principal, and ten parents, grandparents and community members who are planning to volunteer in the kitchen or garden, came along to the customised training day.

Hosted by three of the Foundation’s expert facilitators, the day kicked off with educators and families sharing a keener understanding of the pleasurable food education philosophy. Participants also got hands-on with garden activities and cooked and shared a meal – just like kitchen garden students do.

In the garden, participants learned practical skills they could transfer to students – propagating seeds in newspaper pots, building teepees, fabric printing using natural dyes from fresh plants, and preparing the new garden beds for the upcoming growing season.

In the kitchen, the grown-ups were broken up into small groups, just like a student class, to focus on a tropical-inspired menu: roti and coconut rice, papaya salad, Asian slaw and khao soi curry (a Northern Thai dish), among other delicious dishes.

The result was an incredible sense of teamwork and achievement amid a joyful shared feast, sitting underneath the newly installed waterproof shadecloth organised by the P&C.

The school’s energetic P&C have been successful in sourcing and securing several grants, including from the Active Healthy Northern Queensland Grants Program. The school is devoting these much-needed funds to extending the school’s edible garden, installing a kitchen facility, and implementing and launching the kitchen garden program. Plus funding the whole-of-school training day!

“It’s been wonderful to secure this money for the facility. It works amazingly well now, but will also continue to be a legacy for future students for many years to come,” said the P&C’s outgoing President, Ange Hallett.

Participants applauded the training day for ‘showing aspects across the Curriculum and ways a garden can be beneficial to staff and students’ and also expressed that it was ‘so great to experience cooking together’.

So, what next?

Both the garden and kitchen are already being well utilised by the school to complement the Curriculum. Year 1s have been busy planting their veggie and herb seedlings, Year 2 are cooking roti and mini pancakes to complement their learning about materials for Science, and Year 4/5 are making bread while learning the history of convicts.

The school has reached out to the local newspaper to share their stories and continue to build up the community momentum, and are looking forward to posting their activities on the Shared Table, the Foundation’s online community.

The P&C has also just received another grant. This time from the Sidney Myer Fund to create a reading and sensory garden near the library

One thing’s for sure – Magnetic Island’s end-of-term sausage sizzle will never be the same again!

The Foundation offers whole-staff training, workshops, program development and resource collaborations on a fee-for-service basis. If you’d like to discuss your project, contact us on or 13000 SAKGF (13000 72543).

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