KIDS are more likely to eat vegetables if they’re involved in planting, growing, harvesting and cooking them, says Molly Henson.
The environmental science teacher at Duffy Primary School says her pupils love getting their hands dirty in the school’s large “eco-zone”.
“The kids do everything,” says Molly. “They really enjoy being outside, in nature, and seeing their success.”
Complete with six veggie gardens, two new and as yet unnamed chickens scratching around, a greenhouse for propagating seeds, freshly planted sweet peas for colour – “the kids’ idea!” – and a hutch for the school hamsters Coconut and Cookie, Molly says the eco- zone is flourishing this year, particularly since the school signed up for the “Veggie Patch” promotion, which involves redeeming points from bar codes on frozen vegetables, to get equipment and seeds to keep the veggie patches going.
“It helps because it can be quite costly running a veggie patch,” says Molly.
“The kids also raise money by proudly selling the vegetables they grow, which they love doing – they all want to take their veggies home.”
Molly says her classes also deal with waste, biodiversity and conserving water, and that the school is working towards becoming a waste-wise school, by composting and recycling – “we’re not creating any extra waste,” she says.
An eco-zone such as this can create additional learning opportunities in a hands-on way, like a sense of responsibility, particularly with the animals, says Molly.
“They learn that the plants need water and special attention, which teaches them that nurturing something helps it to grow,” she says. “We’re teaching them where our food comes from.
“The chickens are a great new addition to the eco-zone, and when you link them into the equation, how they help with composting and then using the waste on the veggies, it really shows the whole system and the kids are loving it. They all want to help with the chickens!
“It’s great for the kids to learn about the needs of animals.”