By James Wall
Today I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of Hallam Primary School’s vegetable garden and kitchen. It is of course another primary school participating in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation.
According to one of the speakers there are now over 35,000 students from 267 schools participating in the program. Students learn how to grow and cook their own produce. Because they have played a part in the growing of the fruit an vegetables, they are much more positive to eating it. The presentation included pictures of before and after the project. Basically a patch of muddy grass was converted into a very inviting meeting place of gardens.
After the presentations the sun was out and we were shown the beautiful new food garden. I was very impressed in how clean the broad bean crop was and how well the sweetcorn seeds had germinated. But it is not just the plants, but the passion of the people, from Shirley the headmaster through to Ross the gardener that really shone through. With a bit of stimulation, communities like this can do anything – especially with help from people like Rotary, Inner Wheel and local businesses. Together they shall grow.
The design of the garden beds was done by a student. Much to the disdain of the construction crew a trapezoidal design was chosen. A trapezoid is a quadrilateral with two sides parallel – basically a cross between a triangle and a rectangle. These things were a lot harder to make than rectangles ! However a landscape architect would have been most impressed by this design
We then ventured inside to see a classroom that had been converted into a kitchen. It had a superb freezer and restaurant grade dishwasher through to a number of ovens and workbenches, all tastefully decked out in natural but modern colours. Congratulations to whoever designed and built this wonderful kitchen.
There were some other tasteful things including sausage rolls, vegetable tarts and a delicious finely chopped salad. What impressed me was the flavour of various herbs coming through which made this food very tasty. I finished off with a scone covered in lemon curd, berry jam and freshly whipped cream. Lemons came from the lemon tree, and the berries were picked last summer and frozen and then used to make this wonderful jam once school had resumed. This resourceful school had filled me up and there would be no need for lunch.
We never had a program like this when I went to school. It’s like learning without even realising you are being taught to. I am sure that every guest that left that school had a glow like mine. The world has so many good things going for it, and this day was one of them.