Pick of the Crop

Getting kids to eat more vegetables and fruit.

News and Features

Since Pick of the Crop was launched as a pilot program in 2020 with 35 Queensland primary schools participating across 3 regions, there have been many good news stories, media releases and events that showcase the wonderful achievements by Pick of the Crop schools.

Read about the stories and experiences from across the different regions, on how Queensland primary schools are inspiring their students to learn about, see, grow and eat more vegetables and fruit.

Stories from the Regions

Each year, special events are organised across Pick of the Crop regions, to support schools in raising awareness of the program locally, as well as giving their students the opportunity to enjoy seeing, tasting and learning about veggies and fruit. Here are some examples:

Download print version: Fruity Fiesta – Bowen & Burdekin (PDF, 577KB)

End of 2022 ‘Fruity Fiesta’ celebrations in Bowen and the Burdekin strengthened farmer and community connections.

In term 4, Helena De Bortoli, Regional Coordinator for Bowen and the Burdekin invited all 13 Pick of the Crop schools in the region to participate in a ‘Fruity Fiesta’ celebration event.

What was the aim of the event?

The aim was to strengthen actions happening in schools on the 5 Pick of the Crop components, which include:

  1. Farmer and food connections
  2. Teaching and learning
  3. Veggies & fruit@schools
  4. Healthy school environments, and
  5. Parent connections.

The event focused on improving students’ awareness, attitudes and behaviours towards production, access and consumption of fresh local produce.

What happened?

8 schools signed up to participate in the ‘Fruity Fiesta’ event in the last 2 weeks of term. Each chose activities to implement, including:

  • Phenomenom! (a free Australian Curriculum-aligned learning resource)
  • George the Farmer (free curriculum-aligned learning resources)
  • Get fruity (creative fruit taste experience)
  • Inviting parents/caregivers to the event
  • Dress up (favourite fruit design/colour)
  • DIY fiesta flare (1 school had a picnic!), and
  • Incorporating activities into an existing school event, such as a community day.

Schools also received fresh fruit for their event.

Who supported the event?

The event would not have been possible without kind donations and distribution of amazing fresh, local fruit from local famers and agriculture industry:

  • Euri Gold Farms, donated mangoes to participating Whitsunday schools
  • Pucciarmati Mangoes, who donated mangos to four schools
  • Pontarelli Farms, who donated watermelons for Burdekin schools
  • Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in partnership with Bowen Gumlu Growers Association, who donated rockmelon and watermelon to 3 schools, and
  • Stackelroth Farms, who helped deliver the melons to Bowen and surrounding schools.

Pick of the Crop is so grateful for these farmers and agriculture industry members in supporting local schools and Pick of the Crop, particularly when it was peak production season when this event happened!

Celebrating success!

This event celebrated all the great work that has happened in 2022. By holding such events alongside implementation of Pick of the Crop, students have increased opportunities to learn about and eat more veggies and fruit into the future.

Download print version: Mini Farmer Day – Logan (PDF, 363KB)

In Term 4, 2022, Pick of the Crop schools in Logan had fun participating in a ‘Mini Farmers Day’ to celebrate farmers and teach students where our fresh food comes from.

Samantha Wyatt, Regional Coordinator for the region had been busy planning the day for schools over the previous term. Supported by her team at Children’s Health Queensland, who host the position with funding from Health and Wellbeing Queensland, schools were able to celebrate with:

• Fruit and vegetable boxes (enough for 1 year level)
• George the Farmer books
• Yummy Health & Wellbeing recipe cards
• Activity pack, filled with inspiration and ideas.

Who was involved?

11 Logan Pick of the Crop schools participated in the Mini Farmer Day event, with 26 boxes of fruit and veggies delivered, and 11 goodie packs – after they signed up to participate in the event.

Prep classes were the focus of the event and many students (and teachers and staff) dressed up in their best farmer’s outfits and enjoyed tasting fruit and veggies delivered or from their own gardens.

What did schools do?

• Story time – reading the George the Farmer books provided in the event pack, while munching on the fresh veggies and fruit
• Colouring in – taking a mindful minute and colouring in farm scenes
• Having a dance party!
• Watching paddock to plate videos
• Getting creative – using a free curriculum-aligned educators guide to connect activities with teaching and learning

Why?

Farmer and food connections is one of the 5 components of Pick of the Crop. The whole-school healthy eating program aims to increase opportunities for Queensland primary school children to learn about positive healthy eating messages and encourages learning, growing and eating more veggies and fruit.

Thanks to One Box and George the Farmer where the fruit and vegetable boxes and books were purchased.

Download print version: Matt Golinksi Event – Bundaberg and Hervey Bay (PDF, 721KB)

In August 2022, parents and carers in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay were treated to top tips from Celebrity Chef Matt Golinski, on how to prepare nutritious and delicious school lunchboxes and family dinners using local produce, as part of the Pick of the Crop program.

As the host partner supporting the delivery of Pick of the Crop in the region, Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers Regional Coordinator, Jenna McCormick, organised workshops for parents and students from local schools who were participating in the program.

What was the aim of the workshops?

The workshops focused on supporting healthy habits at home and increasing opportunities for students to learn about, see and taste vegetables and fruit to support their learning at school.

What happened?

Workshops were held in Hervey Bay (9 August) and Bundaberg (10 August).

Matt Golinski, Sunshine Coast Chef, served up ideas, tips and tricks to:

• boost parents’ knowledge, confidence, and cooking skills to get kids in the kitchen, and
• include more local and seasonal produce in lunchboxes and meals.

Morning sessions involved parents and local families attending a demonstration and tasting of Matt Golinski’s 5-minute Fried Rice and Fully Loaded Spaghetti Bolognese before making healthy lunchboxes themselves.

Also see the links to videos from the workshops – Fried Rice and Spaghetti Bolognese.

In the afternoon, students from local schools participating in Pick of the Crop (Torquay State School, Bargara State School, and Thabeban State School) got a taste of the fun at workshops that followed the same format.

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers Chief Executive Officer, Bree Watson, said she was delighted to host the workshops.

“We love connecting parents and the community with where their food comes from. These workshops utilised produce that is grown locally and readily available to showcase how easy it can be to create healthy meals and nutritious lunchbox options for kids”.

Click the headings below to read more stories 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.

Download case study – Chatswood Hills (PDF, 447KB)

A change in culture for the Chatty community

When commencing Pick of the Crop in 2021, Chatswood Hills State School had a vision to improve student knowledge and understanding of healthy food choices. The level of enthusiasm students have shown for the program meant this vision is coming to light, changing the way kids are thinking and learning about food.

Making a vision a reality

Chatswood Hills State School (known as Chatty to locals) first priority when joining Pick of the Crop, was to give their existing gardens some much-needed love.

  • The Environmental Rangers, a group of keen students and teachers, got together to talk about sustainability and the best way to create the garden.
  • Students from across the school were involved in the whole process, from deciding where to best position the garden beds to what should be grown. A range of vegetables, fruit and Indigenous bush tucker plants were planted with input from Chatty’s Indigenous students.
  • The garden was strategically positioned in the middle of the school with students encouraged to roam the gardens as they wish.

Erin, Inclusive Education Teacher, Environmental Ranger and Pick of the Crop Champion highlights the exposure and active involvement has positively impacted the students’ attitudes.

“We have seen a huge increase in engagement around gardening, students are consistently asking how they can be involved and when they can help in the garden… students are actively seeking out the veggie gardens during break times, to check on the plants and eat anything that’s ready!”

From garden to plate

For those not roaming the garden, the garden has been brought to them. Last year, the first Chatty Fresh Food Market was held to showcase the range of delicious vegetables and fruit that was grown by students.

  • Produce was harvested, with both raw and hot dishes prepared for the school community to try.
  • Carrot, lettuce, cucumber, mint, strawberries, capsicum and cherry tomatoes were offered raw, and cooked garlic snap peas, zucchini chips, corn on the cob, onion and roasted eggplant also available for students to try.
  • The event was so successful that it will continue annually with the aim of inviting parents along.

Parent and carer connections

Chatty sees this Pick of the Crop component as an important aspect of creating healthy habits, so they are engaging parents and carers in different ways. Fortnightly newsletter articles are created and shared to keep parents informed about nutrition, food and healthy habits.

Student-led innovation

As the benefits of Pick of the Crop gain recognition, the popularity of activities has continued to increase across the school:

  • Students have started to independently research gardening tips to bring ideas to teachers and fellow students. These dedicated students have researched innovative ways to create sustainable gardens, such as creating edible walls in classrooms.
  • More teachers are engaging with the program, using curriculum as a way of bringing healthy eating and growing into their classrooms.

Creating a sustainable future

Erin is confident that activities will continue, “we are building our veggie crew with teachers and our students are quite invested!”

“We have had great, positive feedback from students, parents and teachers around the Pick of the Crop Program. We believe it is well on its way to becoming embedded in our daily life here at Chatty,” Erin said.

The flexibility of Pick of the Crop has meant Chatty have created a program that is not only relevant to their school community but one that the whole school can get involved in for years to come.

How Chatswood Hills is integrating Pick of the Crop into the curriculum

Prep: A sensory garden was created in the prep playground. The Pick of the Crop funding was used to purchase a variety of aromatic plants including lavender, rosemary, coriander and mint. The students will be able to walk along the garden path smelling and tasting all the herbs.

Year 1 Science unit: how different places meet the need of living things. The class planted veggie seeds, and then cared for them ensuring the plants received the 4 needs of living things – sunshine, fresh air, food and water.

Year 3 Technologies unit: students are tasked with designing and creating a healthy wrap or sandwich. The students are able to explore the Chatty gardens, record what fresh vegetables are available and use that when designing their yummy creation.

Year 4 Science unit: how natural processes and human activity cause changes to the Earth’s surfaces. The class identified an erosion problem near their classroom, caused by both rainwater and students running up and down a hill. They decided that by putting some raised garden beds at the top of the hill, students would be discouraged from taking that path and the gardens would receive plenty of water from the rainwater pathway. As an added bonus, the class then planted fruit and vegetable plants in the garden beds to care for and eat.

Last updated 11 October 2023