How to guide


Early Childhood

> Edible Garden
Design and create an edible garden

Action

What is an edible garden? It’s a garden that you (not the birds and snails) can harvest your own fresh, healthy and delicious food from. Why grow one at your school? Well … growing an edible garden with your students is good for:

Enjoyment

Student of all ages enjoy digging, watering and harvesting their own food.

Physical exercise

Gardening might be something associated with old folks but in reality it’s tough, physical work. There will be digging and lifting and bending and pulling and wheeling and raking and mulching and kneeling. Definitely a full body workout!

Relaxation

Spending time in nature is shown to improve mental health, including reducing stress, increasing creativity and imagination, and building resilience.

Fresh, healthy food

Students will have access to fresh and healthy food. A nature-based diet has been shown to increase feelings of alertness and contentment, and gives all of us more energy. Food gardening offers students the chance to learn about nutrition and supports healthy eating choices.

Appreciation of food growing

By growing, caring for and harvesting food from their garden students will have an understanding of where food comes from, how it is grown and the relationship between food and a healthy natural environment.

“For children without a vegetable patch, or even a fruit tree, there’s little opportunity to observe how food grows. They may only ever see fruit and vegetables at the supermarket where they come neatly packaged, bear little resemblance to the whole plant and may be sold outside the normal growing season” (Fanton and Immig 2007).


How To Do It

Where possible allow children to harvest and eat the foods from their edible garden. When using food from the edible garden show children how it looks before being prepared or cooked, and encourage all children to try the food before and after cooking.

Quick tips:

  • Older children can be involved in all the stages of food preparation from harvesting, to washing, to peeling and slicing, to presentation and eating.
  • Provide parents with a letter explaining that children will be sampling food from the garden. Provide details of the foods grown and eaten at your centre so parents can use these foods in cooking at home.
  • Using mustard seeds, plant a special message ready for a celebration. Use your finger to trace the letters in the ground and plant the seeds along the furrows.
  • Give each child their own plant. Children can create a label for their plant with their name and the type of plant. Children are responsible for observing changes to their plant.

Whole centre tip

 

Hold a centre wide ‘crunch and munch lunch’, with lots of fresh, raw foods such as salads and fruits. Ask children to talk about where these foods come from – do they grow on trees, or under ground, or on small bushes, or in pods? Do they come with a natural skin that needs to be peeled or can you eat the skin? Do they have seeds? Can you eat the seeds?


What’s Our Impact?

A mature tree absorbs an average of 267kg over its lifetime (30 years). Each year a tree absorbs 8.9kgs of CO2-3 (267kg divided by 30). These savings are based on planting and looking after one tree. All plants benefit the environment. Plant more, save more!

  • CO2e (weekly) 0.17
  • CO2e (annual) 8.9
  • Black balloons (weekly) 3.4
  • Black balloons (annual) 178

Further opportunities for learning include an introduction to the seasons, plant lifecycles, natural packaging, needs/care/parts of a plant, and textures, shapes, smells and colours of plants.

CALCULATE YOUR IMPACT


Fast Facts

In Australia, the food supply chain is responsible for approximately 23% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions, making it the second-highest emissions generating activity after power stations. Learn more at Love Food Hate Waste.

One in two Australian households are already growing their own food, either at home or in community gardens, and families with children who are primary school aged or younger are more likely to be growing their own food! (The Australia Institute – Grow you own – Poppy Wise, 2014)

Researchers at the University of Illinois have been investigating nature-based activities and their potential for ADHD children. They have found that children with ADHD and ADD concentrate, complete tasks and follow directions better after they play outside in green settings. The greener the settings, the more improvement they show. Learn more at Planet Ark’s Tree Day.