Madeleine Taplin

For so many children, healthy eating habits come from hours spent with their parents in the kitchen. However sadly, many children don’t get to experience these fundamental moments due to a variety of reasons such as busy schedules and work timetables. Without this pattern at home, many are growing up with little understanding of food preparation. This is where the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation comes in. Originally kickstarted in 2001 by chef Stephanie Alexander, the foundation created a program for primary school students at Collingwood College to engage in the growing and cooking experience of food, focusing on changing the mindsets of eager-tolearn children.

CEO of the Kitchen Garden Foundation, Josephene Duffy, puts the success of the program down to teaching kids about community. “It’s about people connecting through food to other cultures, pathways and learnings of the world that they may not have been exposed to previously.” Josephene, whose own food journey was catalysed by “the joy food can bring through a shared table experience,” has been CEO of the company for the past two and a half years. She has relished working with the passionate team on something that has been very well received by the community. “To see this kind of program rolling out on the ground, exposing kids to all the great things food can give was something I really fell in love with. I believe with every fibre of my being that this program can impact kids positively and change lives. It’s a program that brings children joy but also teaches them food literacy and great food habits.”

Since 2001, the program has developed to not only focus on primary school aged children, but also on the early childhood and secondary sector. “We were really lucky to get philanthropic funding for the early years project and then our friends at AstraZeneca came on and helped us with the project to translate the primary model to the secondary years environment.” Moving forward, Josephene is clear on the foundation’s goals. “To see any school or early childhood service take on the program is key.” Whilst she acknowledges the commitment and work required on the education facilities’ end, she notes that the team is there to support them in every step of the way. “The benefits of running this program are absolutely enormous and worth every bit of elbow grease!” With the kids learning social skills, teamwork, patience, project management and the meaning of community, it is clear that this foundation is generating something incredibly special. And as for what Josephene loves to grow and cook with – artichokes! “They are my favourite thing in the world. I could grow and eat them every day if they were in season constantly.”

Some Local Schools Involved –

  • Abbotsleigh, Wahroonga
  • Brigidine College St Ives
  • Thomas Carlyle Children’s Centre, East Lindfield
  • Lane Cove West Public School
  • Gordon East Public School