The Garden to Table programme is helping change the ways children think about their food and where it comes from. Established in 2008, Garden to Table now works with nearly 10,500 primary school-aged children in 174 schools across New Zealand, helping them to discover a love for fresh food and learn skills that will last a lifetime.

Garden to Table’s mission is for skills-based food education to be available to every child in New Zealand, furnishing the knowledge and desire to make sustainable, healthy food choices. It is integrated with the national curriculum, providing real-world learning opportunities outside the classroom.

Since 2013 The Tindall Foundation (TTF) has allocated funding of $206,000 to the programme via direct donation within the Family focus area. That has allowed Garden to Table to expand from its original bases in Auckland and Christchurch to Wellington and Northland, where eight schools have established the programme over a three-year period.

Linda Taylor, Garden to Table CEO, reports that 1500 children have taken part in the programme so far thanks to TTF’s support: “They have learned how to grow, cook and love fresh fruits and vegetables, and also enjoyed learning in an outdoor classroom, developing teamwork and social skills, and increasing their understanding of the environment and sustainability.”

TTF’s support has also provided ongoing training to garden and kitchen specialists, covering enrolment and membership costs to Garden to Table for three years and employing a programme co-ordinator to guide schools through the set-up process.

The programme reaches beyond the children involved. “Because Garden to Table’s approach is based around fun and a sense of achievement, this has a positive impact on children’s sense of accomplishment and self-esteem,” says Linda. “They take this knowledge home and encourage their whānau to grow, cook and eat more fresh fruit and vegetables.”

The project is in line with TTF’s priority of working in collaboration with schools and families to focus on long-term solutions.