Growing a love for vegetables at primary school on Auckland's North Shore

Forrest Hill School pupils Andy Kim, Dominic Smith and Aabid Mehdi get excited about eating what they have created in ...
DENISE PIPER/FAIRFAX NZ

Forrest Hill School pupils Andy Kim, Dominic Smith and Aabid Mehdi get excited about eating what they have created in the Garden to Table lessons.

Pupils are not often taught how to cook with vegetables, but one Auckland school is bucking that trend.

New Massey University research released this week showed preparing a complete meal is not a key consideration for 87 per cent of cooking teachers, and a mere 10 per cent favour recipes with fruit and vegetable content.

But, at Forrest Hill School on Auckland's North Shore, fresh, home-grown vegetables are the ingredients of choice in the kitchen.

Forrest Hill School's Garden to Table project has produced a flourishing vegetable garden.
DENISE PIPER/FAIRFAX NZ

Forrest Hill School's Garden to Table project has produced a flourishing vegetable garden.

The school joined the Garden to Table programme this year and has a flourishing vegetable garden, producing plenty of green goodies each week.

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Principal John Marwick says year 5 pupils take part in the lessons each Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Aunty helper Ashley Davies supervises Daniel Guo as he cooks up a stir-fry using veggies grown in Forrest Hill School's ...
DENISE PIPER/FAIRFAX NZ

Aunty helper Ashley Davies supervises Daniel Guo as he cooks up a stir-fry using veggies grown in Forrest Hill School's garden.

Half of the class gets stuck into the garden while the other half is in the kitchen, cooking and baking with the produce. At the end of the lesson, the pupils sit down for a meal together.

This week, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, silverbeet and celery were the base ingredients for stir-fries and vegetable muffins.

Marwick said the programme has many benefits.

The pupils get contextual lessons, learn skills like literacy and maths while following recipes, and make use of their five senses while identifying herbs in the garden, he said.

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Nutrition is another key element, Marwick said.

"The kids eat stuff here that their parents say they never eat at home.

"I have a real concern that kids don't know where food comes from."

The Garden to Table Trust, a charity, provides teacher support and plenty of advice, such as a planting schedule so the garden is always producing, he said.

Forrest Hill and Glenfield are the only schools on the North Shore enrolled in the programme. A total of 24 schools in Auckland and more than 40 schools nationwide take part.

At Forrest Hill, the garden and kitchen equipment is supplied with the help of the Dragon Community Trust, Briscoes, McGregor's, Citta, Bell Tea, Noel Leeming and Gubba Products.

The Massey University research was commissioned by the Heart Foundation and vegetables.co.nz, and interviewed 120 intermediate schools.

It found many of the foods and techniques taught in class were based around cakes, muffins and desserts, with less than 50 per cent of the foods prepared being main meal items.

 - Stuff

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