Aussie school children will learn how to be more sustainable and gain a better understanding of how fresh produce makes its way to supermarket shelves thanks to Coles’ partnership with the food education program Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation (SAKGF), which has been extended following a successful three years.
The Explore a Farm program will give school students the chance to visit a nearby farm and learn from a farmer how fruit and vegetables get from the paddock to the shelf, with a trial commencing in Victoria before a national rollout begins later this year.
Also launching today is the free animated eBook Grow It Cook It which features helpful sustainability tips, including how to use all your vegetables, create planters using eggshells, a guide to composting, when to plant and pick your own fruit and vegetables, recycling tips and how to create a mini greenhouse using a container. The eBook will be released seasonally and will be available to download via the Coles website.
Coles General Manager Fresh Produce Charlotte Gilbert said she was proud to launch the two new programs that will help students better understand the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables and understand the challenges faced by farmers due to extreme weather events such as floods.
“We are delighted to be launching the Explore a Farm trial program and Grow It Cook It eBook. Both initiatives will inspire today’s young people to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and protect our planet for future generations,” said Charlotte.
“We are proud to be extending our partnership with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation which will ensure thousands more children from around the country develop a healthy relationship with food, grow their self-confidence and learn important life skills,” she said.
Coles has partnered with the inspirational and practical not-for-profit founded by renowned Australian chef Stephanie Alexander AO since 2020. Over a thousand schools and early learning centres around Australia currently participate in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program which embeds food education in schools and services, reaching thousands of children and their families each year.
Stephanie Alexander is thrilled to partner with Coles for another year and was looking forward to expanding the program beyond the garden and to the paddock.
“Education is a key ingredient for better food habits, and the Explore a Farm program and Grow It Cook It eBook will give all Australian children the opportunity to learn the wonders of seasonal produce and the joy of sharing it with friends and family,” she said.
“Coles shares our passion for fresh, healthy food that everyone can enjoy, and we are grateful for their ongoing support, that will allow us to expand our program and reach more Aussie children and their families,” she said.
Coles Ambassador Curtis Stone said all students who visit farms as part of the immersive excursion will receive the Grow It Cook It booklet, an apron, a recipe card featuring the crop explored in the program, a terracotta pot and seedlings.
“Farmers will become teachers for the day and give students the opportunity to see firsthand how fresh fruit and vegetables are grown, harvested and prepared for our shelves,” he said.
“It has been incredible to see the impact the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program has already had on thousands of Aussie kids and their families, and I am sure the Explore a Farm program and Grow It Cook It eBook will be no different,” he said.
Fresh Select CEO John Said said he was looking forward to welcoming the students from Thomas Chirnside Primary School to his Werribee farm so they could develop an appreciation for where fruit and vegetables come from, as well as the work of Australian farmers.
“I am very excited to invite school kids to our farm as part of the Explore a Farm program. It’s been a tough few years for farmers, with many having to deal with floods and other extreme weather events, so this will be an opportunity to instil an appreciation in our young people for the land we love and the food it gives us,” said John.
The Grow It Cook It eBook can be downloaded on Apple Booksand Google Play.