Pick of the Crop

Getting kids to eat more vegetables and fruit.

Case Studies

Pick of the Crop was launched as a pilot program in 2021 with 35 Queensland primary schools participating across 3 regions. The whole-of-school program aimed to increase opportunities for primary school students to learn about, see, grow and eat more vegetables and fruit.

Read about their experiences in the following stories and case studies.

School Stories

Click the headings below to read impact stories from participating schools.

Download this story (PDF, 267KB)

Below are quotes from a participating school, showing how Pick of the Crop can connect with activities across the school, leading to an integrated experience for students.

“Pick of the Crop has been a very positive project for our school.”

Garden connections and other programs

“I am the principal of a small school. At the start it felt like it took a while to get a bit of traction with the program and to figure out how best to fit it in with the crowded curriculum. But then, a local farmer I know quite well, who was a former student, donated a huge truck load of soil to our school. With donations we had everything we needed to start the garden.”

“‘We do weekly cooking with students called ‘Foodie Friday’ and incorporate produce from the garden into recipes. We then compile the recipes into a cookbook that we give to families for Christmas.”

“‘There are all these programs that interconnect with Pick of the Crop and we are able to identify those opportunities for connecting it all together. We heard about these from the regional coordinator…”

Curriculum connections

“We have incorporated a lot of Pick of the Crop content into the curriculum. Earlier this year we did CSIRO ‘taste and learn’ lessons that linked together quite well with the health curriculum. We have also linked the growing of vegetables in with our science unit.”

“We have plans to put a watering system in the garden and to link this into the curriculum as part of a technology, to look at how to water the garden efficiently without using just a hose or watering can.”

“Since doing Pick of the Crop, I have realised that there are even more links with the curriculum, so as you go along it opens your eyes to the opportunities.”

Impacts

“For me the most important change is the kids’ willingness to try different vegetables and fruit and to see the kids learning the skills for how to cook. You know that is a life skill and if they have that skill now hopefully that will translate into real life when they grow up. I am hoping that by building those skills and healthy habits in kids that it will transfer over to families and lifelong healthy habits.”

“The staff are really keen to do Pick of the Crop activities. It has been great to see to the staff take ownership over it.”

Summary

“Pick of the Crop has been an enjoyable experience for everyone at our school including staff, students and parents. Everyone looks forward to it. I think it’s the satisfaction that they are part of it, contributing to, and get a lot of say in what they do.”

Download this story (PDF, 334KB)

Below are quotes from one participating school, showing how Pick of the Crop was implemented in an integrated and sustainable way, creating multiple connections across the school while seeing individual changes in student’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviours around vegetables and fruit.

“For new enrolments, one of the draw cards is that kids have access to the sensory and veggie garden.”

Reason for participating

“Our school is a small, semi-rural school with 145 students from prep to year 6… when the opportunity came along with Pick of the Crop, I saw it as a way to
progress our veggie garden and chook pen by adding a sensory garden.”

“We have located the sensory garden in a place that can be accessed by all students during breaks while still being visible by the teacher on playground duty.”

Farmer and food connections

“We organised with the regional coordinator to visit 3 local farms. We used Pick of the Crop funding to pay for the bus. What was really good about this day was that we invited the regional coordinator to come along with us.”

Impacts

“As a result of Pick of the Crop, I have noticed changes in the amount of fresh vegetables going into kids’ lunchboxes. You see a lot more cherry tomatoes,
green beans and qukes in lunchboxes. I have also seen that kids are a lot more informed with improved general knowledge on vegetables, fruit and nutrition.”

“For me the most important change is seeing that kids are prepared to try different things. With our school garden we had a crop of snow peas and kids that ‘don’t eat greens’ were eating snow peas!”

“There is a change in attitude, more awareness and willingness to give things a try whereas before it was, ‘no, I’m not touching it!’.”

Summary

“Everything we have done in Pick of the Crop has been beneficial for the school. It’s a win-win for everybody if we can work together more.”

Download this story (PDF, 267KB)

This school found that Pick of the Crop had not only changed attitudes towards trying vegetables and fruit, but also in re-engaging students with learning.

“Pick of the Crop and the garden gives kids a chance to be successful at school in other ways, which I think is the most important change we have seen at our school.”

Everyone benefits

“At our school, Pick of the Crop is delivered through the health and physical education (HPE) curriculum with all seven year levels in the school.”

Pride in the school garden

“We have implemented a school garden – which has helped expose kids to the understanding that food comes from the ground and the garden and not from
packets, and helped build the connections that plants need certain things to grow and so too, kids need certain foods to grow.”

“Kids can see with the gardens that ‘this is our space’ and they have a kind of ownership and sense of agency with the garden, a sense of ‘it’s ours and we
have worked hard at it and we can watch things grow and we can eat them’. The garden also helps teach kids patience, resilience and dedication.”

“With the prep classroom garden, at the start of the year kids were like ‘eww, it’s disgusting’ but we just kept offering tomatoes on crackers and recently we
harvested our cherry tomatoes crops and more and more kids are willing to have a go. Now every day eight or so kids come up to the prep teacher and ask if they can go get lettuce from the garden to put on their sandwich.”

Impacts

“As a result of Pick of the Crop, I have noticed an increase in kids’ willingness to try different vegetables and fruit.”

“One of the kids in the Year 5 class, who has a difficult time engaging with school and would often turn up without a lunch, is one of the ones who I saw really engage with the Pick of the Crop activities. He came into school recently with cucumbers he had grown, and he had them for lunch! You could see he was really proud of himself!”

Summary

“As a result of the Pick of the Crop activities, I have seen more kids engage and feel pride in what they are doing. I think this is the most important change.”

Actions from the Regions

Click the headings below to read case studies from participating regions.

Download case study – Bowen (PDF, 606KB)

Like children screaming for more Harry Potter the students at Bowen State School are cheering for Pick of the Crop School Champion Mrs Groves to plant more fruits and vegetables. The school vegetable gardens are newly constructed thanks to Health and Wellbeing Queensland’s Pick of the Crop.

Bowen State School

Bowen State School has showcased and developed many wonderful aspects of Pick of the Crop but by far their greatest achievement is the beautiful timber garden beds that are accessible by the whole school, including children with disabilities. The garden beds are the centre of the school and wrap around already existing buildings including the school tuckshop.

Through linking the school vegetable gardens with other Pick of the Crop components the school has also been able to embrace Farming Connections through school incursions and excursions. Local farmers have been invited by students to come to the school to help support the success and sustainability of their school vegetable garden.

Local growers have hosted fundamental seedling and bee workshops with students in Prep and Year 6. Students in grade 3 and 4 have also experienced life on a real working farm through school excursions and have learnt how modern-day technologies including phone apps and computer programs can play a huge role in food production.

Students have learnt a lot about healthy farming practices that include how farms make their own compost, increasing soil health and how the use of beneficial bugs all play a role to bring just one tomato, a corn cob or a handful of beans to our plate.

The school vegetable garden is organic, there is no use of herbicides and pesticides. For this reason, one local grower and agronomist donated several different species of beneficial bugs that are used on their largescale cropping farm to keep pests at bay. Students are a part of the newly formed Garden Club which meet several times a week to maintain the gardens released the bugs into the different garden beds.

Students at Bowen State School showcased their school grown fruits and vegetables alongside many local growers at the towns agricultural show. They put together a large display of fruits and vegetables and flew their school emblem and Pick of the Crop banner proudly to the whole community.

Through deep local farming connections Bowen State School were donated over 10 tonnes of fresh produce to which they sorted into vegetable boxes and sold to families and the local community through a Farmers Market. Tomatoes, capsicums, pumpkins, cucumbers, beans, corn, chillies, honey dew and kiwi fruit were just a few of the fruits and vegetables donated by many different local growers. The Farmers Market was hugely successful and raised nearly $5,000 in funds for the school’s P&C Association.

Pick of the Crop at Bowen State School has been driven by a team of passionate teachers who have been led by an equally as passionate Principal. Bowen State School is a proud of what they have achieved though Pick of the Crop.

Avondale State School

Situated 30 kilometres from Bundaberg, and nestled beside the beautiful Kolan River, Avondale State School joined the program in Term 1, 2021.

The school had a clear direction on how Pick of the Crop could boost the current school garden, link with parents and the school community, and increase
opportunities for all students to access and try vegetable and fruit. The school have participated in activities across all five Pick of the Crop components,
as summarised here.

Community Learning with Farmers
  • Had a farm excursion to Littabella Pines
  • Farm donations for extra boost into the garden
  • Attended June 2021 Interactive Forum connecting students to Agriculture
Teaching and Learning Programs
  • Used planning days to source resources
  • Planned for curriculum connections to school garden
  • Linked with Christine Sorbello Nutritional Services to run workshops with students and parents around health and nutrition
Vegetables and Fruit at School
  • Re-instated parent-provided school wide fruit breaks
  • Students access vegetables and fruit grown in the garden and either pick and eat or cooking activities
  • Community volunteers regularly at school (Garden Granny) sharing expert tips and tricks
Healthy School Environments
  • Increased production in the school garden by:
    • developing community links to schools’ Garden Granny, who works with students in the garden
    • increasing the number of garden beds,
      improving soil and planting vegetables, fruit and herbs
  • Family and parent community volunteering at working bees
  • Pick and eat opportunities are provided by the garden during breaks, planned lessons and while working in the garden
  • Fruit and veggies from the school garden are used for brain breaks and cook ups
Parent Connections
  • A series of nutritionist-led workshops by celebrating learning with students and parents participating in hands-on cooking activities while reinforcing healthy choices
  • Parents involved in the garden and helping at working bees
  • Healthy Choices and lunchbox ideas are included in newsletters to families
Summary

By being part of Pick of the Crop, students have gained so many valuable experiences and opportunities. There have been shifts in behaviours
and attitudes towards vegetables and fruit – extending all the way home with parent connections re-established through the school garden.

Great work Avondale State School!

Download case study – Logan (PDF, 331KB)

Eco Club by name, Eco Club by nature

One Logan school has shown us how to lead the way through staff engagement, student empowerment and community involvement.

Harris Fields State School

The dedicated team at Harris Fields State School have been busy creating a thriving garden space this year. Each week, students and staff in the Eco Club spend their lunchtimes constructing, digging, planting, nurturing and harvesting.

Step 1 – Location, location, location

Situated safely at the top of a hill, with a ready water supply, and plenty of sunshine, the school community decided the best spot for their garden to grow.

A stand out feature of the Eco Club was the Principal’s foresight to allocate School Champions to have their lunchtime duty in the garden. This enabled a regular opportunity for a group of students to participate in a hands-on experience.

Step 2 – Plant and See

Using seasonal calendars to choose the best crops, students decided what to plant and where in their gardens. They couldn’t believe their eyes when they came back from school holidays and found cucumbers longer than their arms! The garden produce has been used in many ways already.

• Taste-testing in the classroom
• Creating recipes using digital technologies
• Gifting to the community through a market stall

Unfortunately, other creatures found the veggies and herbs tasty! So the team came up with an alternative – using a broken marquee frame to hang nets.

Step 3 – Other connected activities

On a termly basis, the school runs events to raise awareness around the importance of eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, and how it helps us
to reduce our footprint on the Earth. Meaningful connections have also been built across the school curriculum, so students have access to this learning both inside, and outside of the classroom too.

Pilot Progams

A pilot of Pick of the Crop was implemented in Bowen, Bundaberg and Logan primary state schools in 2021.

Regional coordinators are based in each community, to engage with local schools and assist in the implementation of Pick of the Crop.

Bowen Pilot > See the media release Bundaberg Pilot > See the media release Logan Pilot > See the media release

Last updated 3 August 2022