Kitchen Garden Foundation brings tailored ECEC resources to the table
The Sector > Marketplace > Kitchen Garden Foundation brings tailored ECEC resources to the table

Kitchen Garden Foundation brings tailored ECEC resources to the table

by Freya Lucas

August 30, 2022

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation (the Foundation) seeks to help children form positive food habits for life by providing inspiration, information, professional development and support for educators everywhere, helping them to deliver food education in conjunction with the wider community. 


While the program got its start in schools in 2004, it has since branched out into the early years, with a range of opportunities for little hands and curious minds to get in touch with where their food comes from, to grow, try and taste colourful vegetables, fruits and herbs, and to embrace play-based learning, connecting with the earth and engaging with the seasons and all they produce. 


“The early years are about creating healthy eating habits – not changing them,” Julie Lemmon, Foundation advisory committee member, and Food Education Leader at Clarendon Children’s Centre explained.

When it came time to tailor a program for the early years, the approach was ‘start small, dream big’, with the team wanting to encourage children to connect with nature, and with themselves. 


Developed by a team of experienced facilitators, the program for the early childhood has been driven by feedback and consultation with an advisory committee who “tried and tested” the program, ensuring it was a good fit not only with the outcomes of the National Quality Framework and the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), but also with the reality of life “on the ground” of early years settings. 


“The Foundation offers educators the building blocks to have conversations with children and families about building a healthy relationship with food. From growing, cooking, serving and sitting together to share in an experience at the table. This encourages even the most cautious of eaters to become curious,” Julie added. 

Supporting multiple outcomes 


More than just supporting services to meet the outcomes of the EYLF, and boosting sustainability, the Kitchen Garden Program for Early Childhood helps children to discover real life and authentic experiences in literacy and numeracy, in descriptive language, in mathematics and science, and in making connections to Country, with their hands in the earth and their feet on the ground. 


“The benefits to children are enormous,” Laura Norton, Early Childhood Project Coordinator said. “It’s not just the adaptable program framework, comprehensive resources, personal guidance and professional development to establish and grow their own unique kitchen garden… the way the program builds community and social cohesion is just incredible.”


“The children, educators and those involved are just naturally drawn to it, wanting to participate, they thrive in it and find new interests and skills they didn’t know they had”.


Resources are tailored to support the unique needs of ECEC


As Julie said, the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector is a unique one, and programs and resources developed for this space need to be nuanced to support educators. 


Understanding this, the Foundation is bolstering its early childhood-specific resources, adapting existing resources with early childhood settings in mind, creating easy no-cook recipes, and even rolling out a series of cooking demonstration videos for use in services. This also includes a recent refresh of its suite of workbooks, designed to be a step-by-step guide to setting up, running and sustaining the program in any service, providing a tailored and customised series of easy-to-understand and easy-to-initiate activities for the early years which support the outcomes of the program, as well as the EYLF. 

In keeping with the ethos of the Foundation, the activities are environmentally sustainable, and designed to support the longevity of the program in settings of all types and sizes. 


Activities like a below-ground viewing pot using recycled materials shows children some of the “magic” which happens when plants and vegetables are sending roots down into the soil, ready to grow and develop. As well as being environmentally-focused, activities such as these help children make important connections and understandings about how their food grows. 


Hands-on. Child friendly. Sustainable and contextualised – all important aspects of the Kitchen Garden Program when it comes to the early years.


Supported every step of the way


At the heart, food is about community, and about bringing people together. For participants in the Kitchen Garden Program, online resource and sharing hub, the Shared Table brings together a vibrant community of educators from schools and early childhood services to share kitchen and gardening ideas, exchanging their perspectives and building a community of practice. 


The Shared Table also houses an online resource library, which houses hundreds of resources including activities, recipes, information sheets, videos and templates… everything you need to set up and sustain a successful kitchen garden program.

Even as staff and circumstances change, the Shared Table offers a way for passionate participants to share ideas and inspiration, and to support one another, alongside the connections made with the Foundation’s Support Team – all kitchen gardeners themselves. 


“Being a part of the program is like having a magical planning tool box,” Julie shared. 


“Every resource is useful and clearly laid out – it is my one stop shop for recipes. The resources for cooking and gardening have helped us in our 3-5 year kinder program for Food Education.


The staff are dedicated, knowledgeable and are always willing to help in any way they can.”


The Foundation has dedicated and personalised support available for all its members, thanks to a brilliant team of kitchen garden experts who are available over the phone or via email, with one on one sessions held online once a month to talk through individual needs.  


If your service is keen to dig in, or hungry to learn more about how the Kitchen Garden Program can work in  your service, contact the Kitchen Garden  Support Team on 13000 SAKGF (13000 72543) or [email protected]

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