It is parent helper afternoon for the Kitchen to Garden to Kitchen Again program at Nundle Public School, established as part of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. The Year 1-2 class is divided in half, one group is cooking in the kitchen and the other is gardening. Miss Deaves counts our students as they arrive; seven students. It is a remarkably small group, but not surprising given the entire school numbers 70. We arrive at the outdoor classroom and it is a picture of productivity, wheel barrows of compost, a blackboard of planned activities, and tools hanging at the ready. Miss Deaves has the class hanging on every word as she talks about earth worms and the benefits they have for the soil and plant health.
The children split into smaller groups again to take on their activities for the afternoon. The students select seeds to plant in the vegetable garden and we plant carrot, silverbeet and sweet peas, discussing the varying sizes of the seeds and subsequent recommended planting distance and depth.
Another group rakes leaves from poplars, shedding their golden autumn leaves and shutting down for the winter. The children delight in throwing the leaves from the wheel barrows to the raised beds of compost. Another task generates much comment, diluting the carp fertiliser to water onto the growing seedlings. “Oh, it smells,” is a common response. Back in the outdoor classroom the group talks about what they have learned during the afternoon. They describe the way worms move, by scrunching and stretching, and Miss Deaves asks the children to scrunch and stretch all the way to their afternoon class lines, ready to go home.