The Stephanie Alexander Program provides vital opportunities and experiences to students from Grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 at Dorset Primary. In fortnightly rotations the students sow, grow, harvest, prepare and enjoy organic produce from their own school garden.
This regular hands-on participation builds confidence, skills and pride; both in themselves and their school. The students are also encouraged to see themselves as part of the environment rather than separate to it and the experiential learning provided, enhances resilience as they learn through trial and error and persistence.
Teamwork is a cornerstone of the work undertaken in both the kitchen and garden. Students undertake varied tasks that foster values of responsibility and trust. Their skills in communication, cooperation and problem solving build consistently throughout their years in the program.
Work in the garden provides physical activity and enhances the development of fine and gross motor skills. The program also provides a framework for practical understandings about sustainability and the environment. Monitors care for our chickens and take responsibility for recycling and composting bins. Recycling, repurposing and composting become second nature and these experiences will be taken into the future.
When imported fruit and vegetables are available year round in supermarkets, the benefits of buying and eating seasonally are not always obvious. The chance to observe seasonal changes encourages curiosity about their world and the environment. Students record these observations throughout the term tracking the links between temperature and animal activity and behaviour.
Students who work regularly in the Kitchen and Garden at Dorset Primary will be empowered in their decision making about diet, food preparation and food sourcing. Sedentary lifestyles and obesity are huge threats to the health of Australians. The program equips students with practical skills that will help to address some of the most important challenges that will face the future of this generation. Working in the kitchen empowers students to cook for themselves and make healthy choices about their diets. Broadening their pallets they become interested in a variety of foods, free from the harmful additives. Students also become and aware of the dietary restrictions of their classmates and how to prepare delicious recipes around them.
Volunteers to the program provide links to the community. Working with parents and grandparents provide intergenerational and cultural links. We also enjoy the support of a local secondary school that sends VCAL students to assist with classes. The students set a great example of enthusiasm and maturity which particularly important to our senior students as they prepare for high-school.
Participation in the SAKG Program equips students with skills to take to high school and into their future lives. They leave with a solid foundation and confidence in their ability to grow and prepare their own food.