Al Brown lends support to children’s food education charity
The simple act of planting a seed as a child can sow a lifetime of love for fresh produce and home-made food. This is the vision of NZ food education charity Garden to Table, which is encouraging every child in New Zealand to learn how to grow, harvest, prepare and share good food.
This vision is one shared by well-known Kiwi chef, restauranteur and author Al Brown, who believes it's at the core of NZ as a nation and should be nurtured in our children. Brown has come on board as one of Garden to Table's Ambassadors and is keen to see the programme in as many schools as possible around the country.
“It’s always been important to me that people understand and respect where their food comes from,” he says. “The disconnect created by an abundance of pre-packaged convenience foods these days concerns me so I took great heart in visiting OwairakaDistrictSchool in Auckland and seeing first-hand the Garden to Table programme in action.”
Brown’s support includes fronting five instructional videos as part of the Garden to Table programme,to be made available to participating schools.
“The reason I love this programme is that kids develop solid skills and knowledge that will help them make better food choices and widen their knowledge and awareness. It’s not a ‘you must do this’, ‘you mustn’t do that’ programme. It’s about having fun and learning along the way, and that helps to change behaviour,” Brown says.
Garden to Table executive officer Linda Taylor says now more than ever, primary school-aged children benefit from learning a love of good food and the skills that ensure they know how to grow and prepare that food. “With childhood obesity an increasing health issue in New Zealand, the Garden to Table programmedelivers a long-term solution to a myriad of health challenges facing our country.”
Following the success of the programme in the country’s main centres, Garden to Table is launching it via an online platform so every school in the country will now have the opportunity to start its own Garden to Table programme. The charity aims to bring an additional 350 schools into the programme through its online platform.
It includes comprehensive resources for the garden, kitchen and volunteers, recipes, Brown’s instructional videos and a range of curriculum resources aligned with the NZ primary school curriculum to ensure the programme is well integrated with learning outcomes.
The benefits and follow-on effects of Garden to Table are huge - empowering not only school children but a whole community around them to develop their own creative solutions and take pride in themselves and their environment.
Schools aligned with Garden to Table report more engaged learning, lower absentee rates on Garden to Table days and an increased number of children growing and cooking cost-effective and sustainable good food at home.
“The benefits of Garden to Table are myriad” says Linda Taylor. “We are seeing improvements in children’s health and wellbeing, behaviour and self-esteem, and increased community engagement.
“Our aim is to help every school in New Zealand establish a Garden to Table programme and the online platform makes this possible. We strongly encourage schools, parents and local businesses to get in touch if they would like to know more about Garden to Table.”