Growing food in kindergartens

Growing food with kids in their early years has the ability to create a mindset about food that will stay with them for years to come. Where food comes from and how it is grown is a learning experience that every child should have access to.

Growing vegetables with kids can be an eye opening experience for everyone. They have an ability to make us think smaller and find wonder in everything.

An incursion to Edithvale FCC to restore their vegetable gardens was just that. A morning full of wonder and amazement as we planted Green Dragon Broccoli, crazy climbing snow peas, carrots on tape and silverbeet with almost all the colours of the rainbow.

We were invited to join a fabulous group of 3yrs olds for a morning of fun and planting to refurbish their vegetable beds for autumn and winter. The task of choosing vegetables that grow throughout these months provided us with lots of questions – what will grow fast, big, what will they actually eat or at least try. The variety we decided upon was larger than we first thought and exciting to be able to provide so many different types of food for them to plant, nurture and eventually eat.

Transplanting vegetable seedlings form a punnet is a wonderful thing for kids as they not only see the plant but the root system that is discovered once the punnet is taken off.  Learning to be delicate with the ‘baby’ plants and discovering the root system each child had an opportunity to nurture a seedling. Some told everyone to ‘shhhhh… the babies are sleeping’, some laughed as the root system or  ‘Noodles’ hung from their little hands. .

Carefully dividing each plant form the punnet and passing to each child, they dug a hole and put the seedling to bed, it needed to be covered with dirt and all tucked in, then gently patted down so it was snug as a bug. In order to grow just like us we need food and water – water came in large amounts from little watering cans and trying to explain that their food will come from the sun was one they just don’t yet understand.

Farmer Will, as we named him, was full of gardening enthusiasm and guided everyone on the what to do and what not to do. His experiences in growing food was a pleasure to listen to as he told us stories about the food he grows at home.

We chose to add a few sunflower seeds to the gardens knowing that they are always a fail safe and provide so much pleasure for children. A handful of seeds (knowing that a few would get dropped along the way) they were told they could plant their magic flower seeds anywhere they liked.

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Radish seeds were another that we decided to let the kids choose where they wanted to be planted – fast growing and mostly uneaten by children unless they have grown them themselves.

Carrot seed tape provided a lot of curiosity and questions as to how will they grow carrots? How do they escape the tape? Will the tape grow too?

The vegetable gardens were complete and now in the hands of the little people who planted them. Instructions to water, check for snails and a song or 2 to help make them grow.

 

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radish seedlings

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tee-pee building

We returned with a surprise visit to check on the the gardens progress and build a tee-pee for the snow peas. Delighted that everything was doing well and being cared for. A bed of kale had been munched on by a snail so we set out on a snail hunt! finding him hiding inside the tin chicken that had been placed in the bed. He was gently told to go and have a walk in the park ( you can’t squish a snail infront of a 3 yr old) ‘He ate all our food so now he has energy to play’ so off he went. A few of the beds had been netted to protect from curious fingers and of course cabbage moths.

Radish seeds had sprouted, sunflowers were popping up still with their little seeds just hanging on, rainbow chard was standing tall, snow peas had doubled in size, no sign of carrots or peas just yet. Kale was doing extremely well except for the snail munching, broccoli was looking fabulous and the excitement for all the growing vegetables was infectious. We sang songs about growing big and asked them to care for the plants so that we can come back and share in the eating – especially the green dragon broccoli.

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rainbow chard

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snail house

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Vegetables that were planted for autumn / winter Melbourne

green dragon brocolli

kale

snow peas

peas

leeks

carrots (seed)

rainbow chard

varieties of lettuce

beetroot

radish (seed)

sunflowers (seed)

red cabbage

 

For more information about growing food in kindergartens, drop us a message via the contact page.

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