Age Groups: 0-7
Grant Name: 2022 Woolworths Junior Landcare Grants
School: Gowrie Victoria Broadmeadows Valley Early Learning Centre
Grant Sponsor: Woolworths
To support children's understanding of healthy eating, sustainability and plant growth, Gowrie Victoria Broadmeadows Valley in Victoria set about creating new vegetable garden beds all children in their service could be involved in.
The early learning centre’s ‘Growing Healthy Food for Healthy Bodies and Minds’ included the children every step of the way, from installing and filling their new veggies beds, preparing the soil with fresh compost from their existing compost bin, to deciding which vegetables to plant and going along to help buy what was needed.
Once planted, the children were encouraged to look after the seeds and seedlings by watering them regularly on their own, and adding fresh compost when it was ready to be used.
The project also provided Gowrie Victoria Broadmeadows Valley with a wonderful opportunity to deepen their connection to Wurundjeri Country. Many discussions were held with the children around why it is so important to look after the land and how the Wurundjeri people have lived on the land for thousands of year and have always taken care of Country.
Growing their own vegetables and herbs has inspired many conversations around healthy eating with the children.
Before starting their garden, the children first went to visit the nearby Westmeadows Indigenous Community Gardens, where they were able to see the different kinds of vegetables and herbs that can be grown in gardens. They were also able to meet Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Jo Russell, who volunteers in the community gardens, and who showed them some of the native plants growing in the gardens.
Since their first visit, the children of Gowrie Victoria Broadmeadows Valley have continued attending the community gardens for regular excursions and have maintained their connection with Aunty Jo.
“Attending the community gardens and building our relationship with Aunty Jo has inspired us to further develop our own garden next year by introducing more native plants to our space and incorporating these into our cooking activities and meals made on site.”
In addition to creating connections with Aunty Jo, the project has also provided the centre with opportunities to support children’s social interactions. Each day, they are invited to check on the veggie beds and see if any of the plants need watering, which has allowed for meaningful small group interactions and intentional teaching moments.
The project has enabled the early centre to enhance its sustainable practices, such as composing, saving food scraps for the neighbouring school's chickens, and using their worm farm more consistently – further embedding these practices into the children’s daily routines. As a result, children have seen first-hand how these small steps taken every day can benefit the environment.
A stand-out moment for the children was when they enjoyed a shared cooking experience by making a salad with the lettuce, spinach, radishes, and mint leaves they had grown and eating it with sweet potatoes cooked on their fire pit. Seeing the children harvest the salad ingredients and experience first-hand the vegetables they had helped to grow provided a wonderful moment of learning. The centre’s educators are looking forward to many more cooking activities using the vegetables taking root in their garden beds.
Through the project, Gowrie Victoria Broadmeadows Valley was also able to establish a new connection to Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Jo Russell from the local Indigenous Community Gardens, which they now regularly visit.
“It was this Landcare project which inspired us to explore what local and Indigenous connections we could enhance and we are thrilled to have made this authentic relationship which we hope to continue through our regular excursions. Next year, Aunty Jo will be coming to do some cooking activities with us and we look forward to learning from her in regards to native plants and wildlife we can incorporate into our garden.”