Gardiner Preschool in Glen Iris has a long history of growing their vegetables. The children are valued as decision makers and caretakers of the vegetable gardens. They decide and vote on what to plant. Strawberries, tomatoes, beans, peas, pumpkins, corn, beetroot, lettuce and potatoes are all favourites. The Gardiner Pre-schoolers are involved in the planting, watering, and ongoing care of the edible garden, as well as picking and tasting the produce.
Gardiner Preschool identified an opportunity to extend edible gardening to the wider community. They decided to create an edible herb garden and make the produce available for the Gardiner Preschool families to harvest and take home for use.
Leaf, Root & Fruit are really excited to have assisted with implementing this project. A raised garden bed was located in a central location, within the children’s outdoor play space. We built a raised, cypress garden bed in a sunny spot, with child access, on all sides. Most importantly, it was sited alongside a path that all Kindergarten families arriving or leaving, would pass.
We filled the bed with a premium soil blend and provided a variety of herb seedlings for the children to plant out. Allowing the children to plant the herbs themselves, provided them with a sense of ownership of the herb garden. It was also a fantastic “hands on” learning experience. The children were provided with opportunities to have a close look at the structure, texture, smell and taste of the herbs. The Educators facilitated and supported the children (aged 3 to 5 years), to build an understanding of the resources plants need to grow (soil, water, sunlight etc). The role the children play, in caring for their environment was also discussed.
The herb garden has now become an extension to the learning environment. The children can observe, smell and taste their produce, whenever they are playing outdoors. They are actively monitoring growth and sharing the responsibility of caring and maintaining the garden. They have already used their produce in their own Kindergarten cooking experiences by making herb and cheese scones and adding some flavour to their pumpkin soup (yes, they even grew the pumpkin too!)
Families are encouraged to share ownership of the Community Herb Garden at Gardiner Preschool. They are invited to water it, check for weeds and patrol for caterpillars. Most importantly, they can harvest from the 16 varieties of established herbs to take home and incorporate into their family meals.
Congratulations to the Gardiner Preschool Educators, for empowering our young citizens in this way. Well done, to the children for their enthusiastic gardening. We hope that the Gardiner Preschool families continue to enthusiastically embrace this great learning opportunity. What a great example of local community spirit from members of all ages!