One of the greatest pleasures as a gardening parent is getting the children involved in gardening, especially produce gardening. Watching them devour fresh and super-nutritious vegetables straight from the garden, when they would otherwise spend half an hour pushing the same vegetables around their plate while screwing up their noses, is a delight!

With a growing epidemic of obesity amongst Australian children, encouraging a taste for fresh fruit and vegetables has to be seen as an imperative as much as a simple pleasure.

Acclaimed Australian chef Stephanie Alexander (pictured here) has taken her concern to the front-line – primary schools. The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation was established with the aim of developing life-long healthier and happier eating habits in a new generation of Australians by engaging them in growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing delicious and healthy food at primary school.


The Kitchen Garden Program began in July 2001 at Collingwood College in inner Melbourne. Each week 120 children across Grades 3 to 6 spend forty minutes in an extensive vegetable garden (600 square metres), which they have helped design, build and maintain on the school grounds according to organic gardening principles. They also spend one and a half hours each week in a revamped home-economics kitchen preparing and sharing a wonderful variety of meals created from their produce. The project employs two part-time specialist staff; a gardener and a cook.

There are two unique factors about the Kitchen Garden at Collingwood College. The first is the intrinsic link between the garden, the kitchen and the table. The emphasis is on learning about food and about eating it. No part of the program can exist without the other. The second is the project is embedded in the curriculum. It is a compulsory part of the school’s program for four years of a child’s life.

Establishing the garden and equipping the kitchen cost approximately $20 000, with a proportion of goods (additional produce, equipment, professional services etc) being donated. Not to mention the numerous hours invested by talented, hard working parents and staff.

Schools Involved

There are now 27 Kitchen Garden Schools across Metropolitan and Regional Victoria, including the three Foundation schools (Collingwood College, Nunawading Primary School, and Yarrunga Primary School) and, as of January 2007, in partnership with the Department of Education, an additional 24 schools. The additional 24 schools are spread across the State of Victoria, and are under the banner of ‘Go for your life’ Kitchen Garden Project with Stephanie Alexander. All schools are supported by a Foundation project officer.

Program Costs

A number of grants were secured by the Foundation and Collingwood College. The annual program cost is now approximately $60,000 per annum, of which the largest item is the cost of the part-time, specialist staff.

The Foundation seeks funding for and to oversee the development of Kitchen Garden projects in primary schools across Victoria. The Foundation is a charitable organisation that relies totally on the generosity, shared vision and commitment of schools, volunteers, foundations, government, business and individuals.

If you would like to get involved, make a donation, or find out more information, visit the website at


The Foundation has produced a book, Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids, which is available through the website at It is the story of the Kitchen Garden at Collingwood College and the recipes the children cooked from the food they grew. All proceeds go towards supporting the implementation of kitchen garden programs in our primary schools.

All images are courtesy of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation.