School’s in

Hands on learning at the Co-op

The sun was shining on a beautiful winter’s day when the Co-op welcomed class 1/2 from St Canice’s Primary School, Katoomba, for an excursion to our market garden and shop.

Hugo Allen (front) and Kyrie Dasalla (behind) inspect some of the winter veg growing at the Co-op market garden

The children got very hands on in the market garden where Manu from Farm it Forward taught them about the seasonal herbs and vegies growing there.

Max Kelly with a tasty bouquet of kale-ini or kale flowers

After some harvesting and taste testing of parsley, coriander, and kale-ini (kale flowers) the children walked down the hill to the shop where they investigated the fruit and veg on the shelves and saw where the market garden produce was sold.

There was a quick game of “what vegie is that?” in the shop and then the kids were treated to a cooking demo by children’s nutritionist, Fern Rodrigues, of Eat Play Learn Nutrition. Fern made a bruschetta with the children using herbs they had harvested at the market garden.

Ky Annie Tran (left) and Eva Heint (right) enjoy the fruits of their labour

As a children’s nutritionist, Fern says it was a valuable and fun lesson. “It was so gratifying to watch the children so engaged, holding a little bunch of greens in their hands, eager to use them in the mix we were about to make to top our mini bruschettas,” she said. “Some didn’t eat it, but they genuinely enjoyed making it, asked questions, named each ingredient, showed it to their mums and dads, smelled it… To me, as a nutritionist who values the experience as the ultimate way of learning to like foods, new and already known, it was fulfilling!”

Children’s nutritionist, Fern Rodrigues, makes a bruschetta with herbs the children picked in the Co-op market garden

Teacher, Rosemary Gillespie, agreed the excursion was a great success. “The Co-op team liaised efficiently to co-create the experience I was aiming for with my Stage group from St Canice’s Primary School.  The outcomes I was focusing on were targeted in an engaging and age-appropriate way by experienced presenters.  My students loved the hands-on experience at the garden and then back at the store with the tasting of produce a complete hit!  The excursion photos and experiences have enriched our classroom learning, it was wonderful to be able to engage our parent community as well on the day.  I highly recommend this as a purposeful and fun excursion opportunity to other schools.”

A few parents also came along on the excursion. Isy’s mum, Nicole Gold, remarked on the connections the kids were able to form. “It was such a beautiful experience, watching the kids being engaged and learning about vegetables, and cooking. They learnt about seasonal produce and how to harvest and turn it into a basic meal. The Co-op team were kind, patient, and generous with their time and energy. The kids were excited about their land, nutrition, and local community. We can’t wait to plant the snow pea seeds we were gifted at home.”

Alanna, another mum present, also enjoyed the experience. “It was such a lovely day out that provided the class with hands-on experience of being in a garden and picking produce.  We were very lucky to listen to a talk given by Manu about seasonal fruits and vegetables and growing produce, which we all found very informative. The children were then given an opportunity to prepare a meal with the produce they had picked and made bruschetta with the lovely Fern, a children’s nutritionist.  Blue Mountains Food Co-op generously provided their time and shared produce from their garden.  It was a truly unique experience.”

GROUP PHOTO: Front row: Heidi, Hugo, Kyrie, Sophie, Eva, Aeryn, Ella, Annie, Chelsea, (no name), standing is Oliver, Isy and Max. Back row: Kate Micallef, Rose Gillespie, Jacqueline Forster, John Kelly (parent), Fern Rodrigues, Colleen Bourke

And what did the kids think about it all?

I ate the herbs and the fruit and it was SO VERY delicious (her emphasis was there!) – Isy
I want this (parsley) on my pasta! – James
I can show my mum how to do this (making winter bruschetta) – Annie
This all tastes so yum! – Aeryn

If you are interested in organising a similar excursion for your school please contact Jacqueline via email at we’d love to have you visit!




Join our mailing list to receive tips, recipes, news and events straight to your inbox