Garden to Table inspiration for our kids

Linda Taylor is a Home for Life mum to a 13 year old girl – the youngest of three teenagers in her household. Linda is also the CEO of Garden to Table – a charity which aims to change the way children think about food.

The Garden to Table programme – which runs in schools around the country – teaches students how to grow, prepare and cook home-grown produce. Here she is, in her own words, talking about her work.

Gardening is one of my favourite ways to slow down and relax. Like so many caregivers, I spend most of my days rushing around with work, family and activities, and don’t have time to breathe. Gardening helps me to clear my head and enjoy being outside, while getting in a little bit of exercise at the same time.

My children worked with me to grow vegetables in the garden from a very young age.  When our daughter came to us through H4L we would spend hours in the garden together at the weekend, digging holes for seeds and trying to name the seedlings as they sprouted. It was great bonding time for us as a family, as well as introducing her to vegetables in a positive way.

Garden to Table 

I was taking 6 months off after leaving a high-pressure role, and just enjoying time at home. A friend contacted me to say that my ‘dream job’ was being advertised – working with children, gardening and cooking.  The following week I was the new Chief Executive of Garden to Table! It’s a fantastic, positive, skills-based programme that shows children how to grow, harvest, prepare and share good food. Students help to develop a school garden, learn how to cook their produce, and then sit down and share what they’ve made, together. It’s also curriculum-integrated and provides children with an opportunity to learn outside a traditional classroom setup. 

Growing a sense of pride

One of the biggest benefits we see from Garden to Table is a growing sense of pride and achievement in the students. They have grown and cooked something delicious, and learnt new skills that they can take home and share with their family and caregivers. Often it’s the children that don’t excel academically or in sports that come into their own with Garden to Table.  Every time I go to a school I have a group of enthusiastic and passionate kids keen to show me around their garden. I’ve had more than one child say to me “Now I know I’m good at something.”

Garden to Table’s mission is to give every child in New Zealand the opportunity to learn how to grow and cook good, nourishing food. The health benefits for children who eat more fresh produce are obvious.  However, for foster parents, spending time in the kitchen and garden with your foster child is a fantastic opportunity to have fun together, while developing your child’s sense of self worth, pride and the knowledge that they’re good at something after all.

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