Growing with Gladesville
Gladesville has had a vegetable garden for many years - but it has been a struggle to maintain our students’ enthusiasm with failed crops due to poor soil quality and the surrounding thirsty trees. Mrs Cox attempted to get the garden growing again in late 2019 / early 2020, and then COVID-19 came along.
Melissa Strangio, parent and School Council member, had a vision of a successful vegetable garden where Gladesville students could learn about growing and harvesting their own food. With the support of School Council and the Buildings and Grounds Sub-Committee, Melissa was successful in her applications for two grants – Woolworths Junior Landcare grant and most recently, The Kitchen Garden Kickstart Grant, via a partnership of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and General Mills. This grant to the value of approximately $8000 enables schools around Australia to invest in their kitchen garden infrastructure and program development. In 2022, Gladesville Primary School was one of only 12 recipients of the Kitchen Garden Kickstart Grant across Australia!
Since receiving the grant, there have been many formal and informal working bees in and around the vegetable garden, clearing out weeds, removing debris, rebuilding compost bins, and building new wicking beds. A wicking bed is a garden bed that acts like a giant version of a self-watering pot - there is a reservoir at the base to hold water, enabling the plants to be watered evenly from below. Using wicking beds also means the surrounding trees can’t steal the water from the growing vegetables! For more information about wicking beds, see this video from Gardening Australia https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/building-a-wicking-bed/9435452
On September 8 2022, we had an amazing team of volunteers from General Mills and the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation arrive at school to help us launch our new Kitchen Garden. They helped by laying weed mat between the wicking beds, finishing the beds with 3.5m3 of soil, and mulching around the beds and into the orchard (stage 2 of Gladesville’s Kitchen Garden will feature several dwarf fruit trees!). The afternoon was finalised with a visit from Stephanie Alexander herself, who helped our student leaders and environmental leaders get started with spring planting of seedlings and seeds.
Already there have been many excited tours of the Kitchen Garden, with environmental leaders showing their classes around the garden and explaining what has been planted. We are all looking forward to watching our vegetables and flowers grow!
A huge thank you to General Mills and Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation for making our dream into a reality through your Kitchen Garden Kickstart Grant program! We appreciate you attending our school planting day and celebrating the opening of our Kitchen Garden.
Gladesville Primary School gratefully acknowledges the generous donation and time from Pro-Cut Tree Services. They kindly chipped all of the prunings from our recent large scale working bee, removed trees and stumps, and delivered many cubic metres of mulch.
Pro-Cut have have also donated towards a water tank and pump to keep our Kitchen Garden growing - thank you!
We appreciate the support and advice from Mt Evelyn Garden Centre, supplying quality seedlings to get our garden started - we look forward to growing our relationship with you!
Finally, we are thankful for all the time spent by members of the Gladesville community, on formal and informal working bees, and the time and expertise donated in preparing the Kitchen Garden for today. Here’s to many productive gardening seasons ahead in our Kitchen Garden!
About Stephanie Alexander...
Stephanie Alexander AO is a renowned Australian chef, restaurateur and author. Stephanie piloted the Kitchen Garden Program in 2001 at Collingwood College, and following the success of the program, launched the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. The foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to supporting schools to introduce ‘pleasurable food education’ by teaching students to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh seasonal produce.
For more information about Stephanie Alexander, please see her website: https://www.stephaniealexander.com.au/
For more information on the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, please see the foundation’s website: https://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au/