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Garden to Table at Haumoana School

Issue: Volume 96, Number 20

Posted: 09:00am, 13 Nov 2017
Reference #: 1H9g7S

Haumoana School in Hawke’s Bay has truly embraced the concept of Garden to Table – in the process they’ve won awards and have changed the way their community thinks about nutrition, the simple pleasure of food prepared and shared, and celebrating all that grows.

Haumoana School students tending their garden and making fresh pasta.

The Garden to Table Trust was established in 2009 with the aim of getting a curriculum-linked food education programme into schools. According to their website (gardentotable.org.nz), the trust seeks to change the fact that many children – and the communities in which they live – don’t know as much as they should about where food comes from and how it’s grown, cooked and shared. The Garden to Table Trust offers learning programmes so schools have a starting point from which to create their own gardens and live the vision of the Garden to Table Trust: grow, harvest, prepare, share.

Recently, Haumoana School in Hawke’s Bay was recognised as School of the Year in the T&G Garden to Table Young Gardener of the Year Awards 2017. Their programme has achieved some impressive outcomes in areas including, but not limited to, community engagement, authentic curriculum exploration, enterprise learning, sustainability education, and core learning areas such as literacy and numeracy.

Principal Jane Gallen says staff at Haumoana School came across the Garden to Table programme on the current affairs show Seven Sharp three years ago, and thought that it would fit with the school’s ethos, which is all about hands-on learning in an authentic context. Jane says that, as the school is situated in a community surrounded by orchards and vineyards, it felt particularly appropriate to be bringing horticulture into the school.

From small beginnings, teacher Jon Lovell embraced the programme with his year 4 class and developed the project in a way that reflected their unique setting; for example, Haumoana kids now pick mushrooms that grow on the grounds in winter and use them to make mushroom soup.

During the school week, half the class works in the school garden, while the other half is indoors cooking what they’ve grown. This means that the children are incidentally learning about seasonal produce and how to make the most of it. The school is currently renovating an old dental office on the grounds into a dedicated kitchen.

Particularly impressive is how the school is maximising  the cross-curricular opportunities around Garden to Table. As a prime example, Jane says, there was a gap in the local produce market that her students were able to fill: when local restaurant Pipi Pizza found themselves in the middle of a rocket shortage they contacted the school, which was able to meet demand from its garden. The students harvested the rocket and packaged it using a brand they’d developed – in the process learning the basics of enterprise and marketing. The class was able to find out how to price their product and work out its profitability. The relationship proved even more fruitful when Pipi Pizza spent time with the class teaching everybody how to make pizza.

Jane says that the Garden to Table programme has fulfilled their vision of how a modern learning environment applies in a unique way to their community.

“Our modern learning environment is outside as well as inside. I think we run the risk of thinking of these environments as something that’s only inside, but we think an innovative learning environment is everywhere.”

Community engagement is another key theme that comes through when Jane speaks about the school’s Garden to Table programme.

“The students decided ... that, [because] we had so much produce, they would create a ‘Good Sorts’ dish, which they could give to someone in the community who either needed help, was having a hard time, or just needed celebrating. Each Friday they deliver an award, so it’s kind of about paying forward as well.”

What also really appealed to the Haumoana School community is the fact that Garden to Table isn’t just about gardening, says Jane.

“It’s also about things like setting the table, manners, hosting, and conversation over food. Of course, it’s about nutrition, but actually it’s also about tasting flavours.”

There’s also plenty of opportunity for some authentic mathematics exploration. For example, students are challenged to scale up recipes and the ingredients they will need according to how many people they’re asked to provide for.

Another great aspect of the Haumoana Garden to Table experience is that knowledge is spreading beyond the school gate – something that the students themselves are driving. Teacher Jon Lovell explains: “The garden has become a real focal point for the children as they proudly share their learnings with their parents, siblings and schoolmates. Many of the children have been the driving force in planting gardens at home, based on the enthusiasm they have gained from the school garden. Many of the children [7–8 years old] also now cook on a regular basis for their families.”

Find out more about the Garden to Table programme at www.gardentotable.org.nz(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

The Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero is produced by NZME for the Ministry of Education for teachers, leaders, and other education professionals working in New Zealand.

Posted: 09:11am, 13 November 2017

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