24 Carrot Program at Jordan River Senior School Boosts Attendance Rate

Preparing the feast.

Nine Tasmanian schools have been included in the next round of participants in the 24 Carrot Gardens program this year. Founded by Kirsha Kaechele and Mona in 2014, the program aims to teach children how to grow, harvest, prepare and share healthy produce, with a focus on creativity, architecture, the arts, and sustainability.

The Jordan River Learning Federation (JRLF) Senior School in Bridgewater has been announced as one of the schools to participate in the program this year. Students will learn about health and nutrition in an immersive outdoor environment where they can learn to grow, cook, and eat
healthy produce. “Our state is proud of its strong foodie culture, and so much of our economy is centred upon it. We want to see all Tasmanians benefit and contribute to this, and this will not happen without investing in children in the neighbourhoods where it matters most” said Kirsha. She hopes that eventually every school in Tassie will have a learning garden, and that people will shift away from its current health and obesity crisis, and towards a healthy and positive future.

Assistant Principal at JRLF, Chantel Barnes, said JRLF first became involved with 24 Carrot Gardens last year. A miniature garden was started, along with weekly cooking lessons for the Grade 7 students. “We’re really fortunate that Kirsha was in the classroom. Jack Lark (program partner) came over every week with Kaechele, and they supplied us with all the materials to cook with.”

Program participants and partners.

According to Chantel, since the implementation of the 24 Carrot Gardens program, the school saw a significant improvement in student engagement and attendance. Grade 7 student Josh* began last year with an attendance of around 40%. But by the time he finished term four that year, his attendance was at 70%. “He made a 30% gain just by feeling a connection to the program,”
Chantel shared. At the end of each term, the students hosted a feast for the rest of their peers, which saw an impressive attendance of 80-85%. “We’re really fortunate that 24 Carrot Gardens could support us by providing opportunities for our learners to do hospitality with industry mentors,” said Chantel. The students who chose to participate in the cooking classes in term four received their own personal cooking knife with their name engraved on it.

This year students will again be working in a special masterclass. Two students will also have the chance to do work placement with Vince Trim, Mona’s executive chef. “We try to explain to the students that success isn’t just this linear line that just happens. There’s swings and roundabouts, and it’s how we use those skills to deal with or bounce back from situations that don’t always go
our way,” Chantel said.

The eight other schools joining the 24 Carrot program this year are Montrose Bay High School, Glenorchy, Bayview Secondary College, Clarence, Kingston High School, Kingborough, Montello Primary, Burnie, Romaine Park Primary, Burnie, East Devonport Primary, Devonport, Ravenswood Heights Primary, Launceston, and East Tamar Primary, Launceston. The 24 Carrot Gardens project has been made possible by a major grant from the Tasmanian Department of Education, as well as the generosity of private donors.

For more information visit www.24carrot.mona.net.au

*name has been changed for privacy

Picking beans.