There are times when, for practicality, we grab a quick bite to appease our gurgling tummies. However, we mostly engage with food in more social and sensory contexts. Food provides nourishment in a very literal sense but it also nourishes family and community life. All societies have rituals surrounding food that bind their communities and affirm their cultures. One need look no further than symbolism inherent in the stirring of the Christmas pudding, breakfast in bed, preparing Matzo dumplings for Passover, the feasting at Eid al-Fitr to observe that the rituals around food are deeply embedded in culture. In a very real way the food rituals extend beyond the individual meal to the planning of menus, shopping for ingredients and the preparation of the food itself. ……. and, of course, cleaning up afterwards!!!
Benefits to children and the community
- Minimal use of preservatives and artificial additives ensures that children grow up used to the natural aromas and tastes of food
- Fresh food seasonal offers children a variety of tastes and textures
- Less packaging is required for fresh food and less waste is produced.
- Food scraps are used to feed our animals and worms instead of going to land-fill
At Gumnut Gardens we incorporate food as a cornerstone of cultural development for children. We can never produce all the food we prepare at Gumnut Gardens but we do our best to make a contribution. We have fruit trees suited to coastal conditions. We continue to nurture young green thumbs with our herb and vegie gardens. The children learn to water and fertilize, weed and compost, and, of course, to harvest. We bake our own bread and make sauces from scratch. Five of our staff can milk by hand so we’re even researching the viability of periodically keeping a dairying ewe to provide our own yoghurt and cheese.
A good example of the learning experiences associated with food, can be seen with the some fresh wheat provided by Farmer Ritchie. The children have learnt that some of this wheat can be milled and used to bake our bread, make pizza dough and even a birthday cake. Some of the wheat has been germinated to make wheat grass for salads and juice, and some has been sown in our garden to create a fresh crop of wheat. In the course of this process children learnt more than the value of wheat. They learnt to take turns, be responsible for their chores, co-operate with their peers and engage with each other over a meal.
Our Gumnut Gardens community has strengthened through exchanges of ideas relating to food; vegan or vegetarian; low GI versus 5-2 diets, the Scandinavian or American food pyramid. Recipes have been swapped, web-sites discussed and blogs posted. Each Gumnut Gazette contains a recipe contributed by a member of our community. Through our web-site we will publish recipes each month and those recipes will be archived for future reference. We value your input and hope everyone can continue to contribute to our growing and diverse foodlog.