Our aim with "From Garden to Plate" was to change the way children approached and thought about food. We wanted to see children enthusiastically getting their hands dirty and learn how to grow, pick and prepare their own vegetables.
Gardening delivers a great introduction into “sustainable living.” Children can learn about many different flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables. They learn about the importance of good soil, composting, sunshine and different water sources. Gardening also introduces children to the world that lives below the soil: the one inhabited by worms, bugs and other insects, making our soil healthy and alive.
When planting and growing an edible garden, children learn about the importance of healthy eating in a fun, hands-on way. Studies support this view, saying that when children garden and grow their own vegetables, they are more likely to snack on vegetables when they grow older.
When we garden, we stimulate our brains awaking our senses such as, touch, smell and taste. Gardening is a great gentle physical activity that can help children stay active and healthy, reduce stress and just relax and get back in touch with nature. The very essence of gardening involves teaching patience. After all, when we plant a tomato plant, it doesn’t immediately produce a tomato. We have to wait for it to flower, and then wait for the tomato to ripen.
Gardening also teaches our children responsibility. If we don’t water our plants, they will die. Our children must water their plants more than once for them to grow, resulting in a very firm lesson about responsibility.
After all these lessons it’s time to reap what we sowed. It’s time to take those vegetables from garden to plate, using our freshly grown vegetables to make some yummy, colourful, healthy meals. It’s important to continue the children’s involvement, by having them prepare the vegetables by washing, cutting and grating them ready to make vegetable pizzas, vegie fritters or vegetable soup.
After a month of hands on activities, challenges and family involvement, the children gained a good understanding of where their food came from and environmental factors that can affect an edible garden. They developed a sense of pride when talking about the meals they helped prepare and we found many of the children had an open mind when it came to trying new vegetables.