Cannons Creek pupils go healthy
Getting children to eat their vegetables can be a never-ending battle, but pupils at Cannons Creek School are chomping at the bit to get their teeth into them.
The Garden to Table programme is in four Wellington primary schools and several others elsewhere in New Zealand. It teaches children about growing, harvesting and preparing fruit and vegetables from their garden.
With numbers of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes rising, Cannons Creek School kitchen coordinator and diabetes nurse Tess Clarke said the programme helped children to learn about why it was important to put good food in their bodies.
‘‘ They’re learning fresh and healthy food can be not only nutritious, but it can be easily made and can be pretty tasty, too,’’ Clarke said.
The school has its own garden and grows an array of fruit, vegetables and herbs, cultivated by the pupils and volunteers.
So far, the pupils had made everything from hummus with carrot sticks and herb scones, to warm potato curries for the colder months.
After the harvesting and food preparation, the students have a lesson on food nutrition before they sit down to eat the food they have prepared.
The programme helped expose the children to new foods they might not have had the oppor- tunity to try before, Clarke said.
‘‘The first year we did the programme, we made a potato and spinach curry and most of the kids couldn’t tell me what a raw potato was.
‘‘ Lots of them wouldn’t eat vegetables, and within a few months they were eating and cleaning up all the food and coming back for seconds.’’
Wellington co-ordinator Nicky Boughtwood said that aside from its obvious health benefits, the programme taught children to know where food came from and that it didn’t have to be bought from the supermarket.
‘‘Even just buying a pasta sauce in a jar, or a canned soup, and knowing that you can [make] it yourself,’’ she said.
‘‘ I was visiting a school the other day and we made pumpkin soup. [The pupils] had only ever had it from a can, and it’s just so simple and cheap to make.
‘‘A lot of kids really love the gardening and getting stuck in and digging. It’s quite physical. Or [they love] the cooking, and the eating, obviously.’’
Clarke and Boughtwood said they would like to see Garden to Table available in more Wellington schools.
‘‘One of the great things about the programme is what the kids learn here in the class can be applied across the curriculum,’’ Clarke said.
Cannons Creek’s programme is funded by The Warehouse and Healthy Future Families Trust, which is committed to improving the health of the community.
Alyssa Schwalger and Gasetoto Lamusitele with the chillies they have grown in the Garden to Table programme.
– Tess Clarke