On the Menu

Our Year 9 students are growing produce to be served at Las Chicas restaurant in Balaclava. In exchange for growing restaurant-quality herbs and veggies in our college grounds, the students are learning about menu planning and food production from industry professionals

Student Aoife Ralph (pictured front) reports.

For cycle three of our Community Projects, the Food and Industry Skills Group has been tasked with creating a Community Garden. The purpose of this garden is to supply both the school and the Las Chicas restaurant with fresh produce.

There are approximately 25 students all equally involved with the running of the garden. So far we have learned how to prepare raised garden beds and planter boxes with the correct quality and quantity of soil. We have planted a variety of vegetable seeds and herbs. We have also learned different planting techniques depending on the qualities and unique aspects of seed and seedlings. Over the past few weeks we have enjoyed the physical work of planting the seeds and turning the soil but have also enjoyed writing the reflections at the end of each lesson.

The class is really looking forward to cooking with all of the fresh produce that we are growing and cannot wait for it to be used in a commercial kitchen and turned into something delicious.

Head Chef Isaac Andoo explains the program's benefits.

Since starting the program in early September, I have been very impressed with the students attitude towards the work involved in preparing the gardens for planting. In two classes we have managed to move 12 cubic metres of soil using two wheel barrows and a lot of hard work. The students worked great as a team and all pitched in to get the job done. We have managed to get an early start on the growing season and hope to begin harvesting in the next couple of weeks.

As a chef, I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to help with this program. I think with the many health issues with are faced with these day it so important to teach our younger generation where our food comes from and the work involved in growing, harvesting and preparing the food for the table. I want to show the difference in taste and quality of local seasonal produce and the joy it can bring to eat something that you have grown. I also want to show that vegetables are easy to grow and can be turned into exciting, healthy restaurant style dishes.

Our aim at Las Chicas is to be able to have a sustainable, seasonal garden from which we can use to create super food salads and juices from.

Myself and the rest of the team at Las Chicas are very excited to have access to such great produce and are looking forward to creating new and exciting dishes using our own grown produce.