Pick of the Crop

Getting kids to eat more vegetables and fruit.



In 2021, 35 schools reaching over 10,000 students participated in a pilot of Pick of the Crop. This pilot was evaluated in partnership with the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR), The University of Queensland.

A summary of the findings shows the program is highly valued and feasible in achieving impact in complex school environments.

A number of stories from schools participating in the pilot program also capture how schools implement the 5 components of Pick of the Crop, the challenges and opportunities schools face and the outcomes.

Read the 2021 Evaluation Summary (PDF, 1MB)


In 2022, Pick of the Crop expanded to 59 schools, with evaluation undertaken in partnership with the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) at The University of Queensland.

Results showed that teachers observed improvements in various indicators when assessing the current state within the school compared to the status before implementation of Pick of the Crop. This included:

  • students having more opportunities to consume veggies and fruit each day
  • an increase in students attitudes and knowledge about vegetables and fruit, and
  • increased access to a school garden.

313 activities were delivered across the 5 components of Pick of the Crop, with sustained impacts and outcomes for schools in their second year of implementation.

Read the 2022 Evaluation Summary (PDF, 639KB)

Collaboration with PhD students and industry placements

Collaboration with students and industry placements are providing opportunities to build research and evaluation into the implementation and sustainability of Pick of the Crop. Read more by clicking the headings below:

Download print verion – Alanah (PDF, 309KB)


Alanah Giles
PhD Candidate at University of Queensland (UQ)
Accredited Practising Dietitian

PhD supervisors

  • Dr Jacqueline Walker- Associate Supervisor- School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, UQ
  • Dr Clare Dix, Professor
  • Adjunct Professor Robyn Littlewood- Associate Supervisor, Health and Wellbeing Queensland

My goals for the placement:

  • Implement Design Thinking Framework skills established through my PhD, and translate these to different setting
  • Build upon community relationships and engagement skills
  • Engage in team collaboration
  • Grow my professional network.

Aims of the placement:

  • Support the Pick of the Crop team in developing and refining teaching resources.
  • Enhance evaluation and refinement of the program, based in the team’s personal and unique experiences and perspectives.


Task 1 – Curriculum forum for schools in Logan (August 2022)

This forum was held at Woodridge North State School for Logan-based teachers to share ideas around curriculum integration and student engagement. The forum involved assisting teacher engagement, planning and developing workshop content agenda, facilitating the forum.

Post forum, a satisfaction survey was generated and disseminated, and a summary will be prepared.

Task 2 – Teaching and learning resources

This task involves modifying current online video modules and resources relating to food literacy and sustainability into 8-10 shorter modules that can be viewed independently of one another.

The current modules involve three recorded webinar videos of 1.5 hours each, involving extensive pre-work and reflections. While the content is excellent, the format is not accessible or practical for teachers. Related resources will be provided. All information will be included in the video content.

Task 3 – Ethnographic study

This task is an ethnographic study to harness content created by teachers relating to curriculum integration of Pick of the Crop and student engagement so that it may be disseminated across the network.

Download print verion – Leila (PDF, 331KB)


Leila Fathi
PhD Candidate at University of Queensland (UQ)
Accredited Practising Dietitian

PhD supervisors

  • Professor Helen Truby – Principal Supervisor – School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, UQ
  • Dr Jacqueline Walker – Associate Supervisor – School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, UQ
  • Dr Mark Robinson – Associate Supervisor – Institute for Social Science Research, UQ
  • Adjunct Professor Robyn Littlewood – Associate Supervisor – Health and Wellbeing Queensland


  • To explore process characteristics (enablers and barriers) that influence the implementation and sustainability of the Pick of the Crop program.


Data gathering from multiple sources.

Development of case studies of 6 schools across three Pick of the Crop regions – Logan, Bowen and Bundaberg (2 per region).

Pick of the Crop research:

  • Implement a focus group with Pick of the Crop Regional Coordinators – includes questions about the sustainability of the program.
  • Conduct semi-structured interviews with 8 – 10 school staff who have engaged in the program since 2021 (e.g. Principals, teachers, School Champions) from the 3 regions.
  • Conduct semi-structured policy interviews with Regional Directors from the Queensland Department of Education.
    • These will explore how food and nutrition policy is implemented in Queensland and help inform the broader policy context for Pick of the Crop.
  • Conduct an international study with stakeholders involved with the implementation of school-based nutrition programs to learn about their successes and challenges.


Data collection for Pick of the Crop:

  • The Pick of the Crop evaluation study will be completed by the end of November 2022.
  • School interviews are planned to take place in Term 4, 2022.
  • Interviews with Regional Directors are planned to take place from September 2022.

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.”


“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.”


“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.”


“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!’.”


“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.”


“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!”


“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.”

Last updated 18 December 2023