Anyone who criticises teaching children vegetable gardening on the grounds that it is some sort of menial, dirty, low brow, activity not worthy of including in an educational syllabus has completely missed the point. These detractors also consider agriculture as some sort of lesser science at tertiary level. But just how wrong can you be? Even if you discount all the joyful and amazing benefit to be gleaned from growing food, harvesting, cooking and then eating it together around a shared table there is still a wealth to be learnt from teaching by growing a garden. In 1992 when we ran a small vegetable plot in the grounds of Gundaroo Public School it was done with the express purpose of showing how a multidisciplinary subject like horticulture/agriculture was capable of covering every single learning outcome demanded in the primary school science curriculum at that time. We delved into maths, chemistry, physics, design, botany, zoology, architecture, multi-culturalism, indigenous issues, ecology, environmental science and much more. Just how are we to teach our children to deal with the pressure of a rapidly changing world with an uncertain and potentially horrible future? Giving them an early grounding in a subject that deals with complexity, forces them to ask questions, gives them real problems to solve and best of all combines the arts and the sciences in one discipline has to be a very good start.
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