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Maggie Beer

Maggie & Stephanie Alexander at the Elizabeth Downs Primary School Kitchen Garden!

September 01, 2019

Of all the wonderful opportunities I have in life and with all the exciting things I’ve been doing this past month, this visit with my great friend Stephanie Alexander truly topped them all!

I was invited to come along with Stephanie to the 10 year celebration of Elizabeth Downs opening of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden and having been at this school for the beginning which had been a revelation then of what was possible with such the passionate leadership and great specialists in both the kitchen and the garden at the beginning, I jumped at the chance to go to see it ten years on with the launching of a spanking new kitchen.

This visit, so supercharged with the excitement still of the leadership team and inspirational kitchen and garden specialists again, yet it was the children who captured my heart and gave me such hope for the future. This is a school in an area that is underprivileged, a lot of unemployment and a huge percentage of refugees from incredibly difficult arenas of the world. Yet to see and feel that energy from the young faces all sitting cross-legged on the floor from the tiny ones from reception to those of year 7 at assembly to formally thank Stephanie for her vision of creating her Foundation and what it had given to this school was such a great experience that I keep thinking back on and believing that this is the way to change the world. About ten students from years 6 and 7 were chosen to make lunch for a beautifully set table for 20 people.

The food was exceptional; A minestrone full of all the vegetables from the garden; a focaccia so moist and moreish we had to have second pieces; a main course of baked ricotta dumplings in a tomato sauce that we’d all be proud to put on the table in any home; a salad of delicate greens, herbs and flowers just picked from the garden I was envious of in its diversity and then a lemon curd dessert making the most of the season as well as delighting our palettes. Yet it was so much more than the food; the detail of the table; the overflowing garden that any top-class chef in a fancy city restaurant would die for; it was the way the children worked together, the shyness turning into delight and the pride of making this meal all by themselves. Just think if every child in Australia could have such an opportunity. We should all be asking our State and Federal Government to support such a scheme I just have to say it again that can change the world of these young children and empower them for life.

To read more about the fantastic work of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation visit www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au.

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