Real-life learning – on a plate

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When Balfour School pupils sat down to lunch on Friday it was no ordinary meal – the pupils had produced all the food on their plates themselves, right from the chicken to the lettuce and more.

The lunch was the result of an inquiry topic called “How did my food get into my lunchbox?”, principal Louise Stevenson said.

One of the aims of the exercise was to give pupils the chance to be well-informed food consumers with the ability to make good food choices based on knowing where their food came from and the processes it went through before being offered for consumption, Mrs Stevenson said.

Pupils raised 15 meat chickens which arrived at the school when they were only a few days old. They were kept inside the classrooms in a small cage under a heat lamp until they could be moved to the school field, where they were kept in a chicken tractor.

“The children have been watching the chickens mature over time and learning how to care for them,” Mrs Stevenson said

The biggest chicken weighed in at 3.1kg and the average was 2.5kg at slaughter, she said.

The chickens were processed off site when they were big enough, using a system as close to commercial conditions as possible.

Pupils also grew their own vegetables at the school, Mrs Stevenson said.

They also learned about dairy-food processing and fruit and vegetable processes and made their own flatbread, which was eaten at the Friday lunch.

Surf to plate… Pupil Elliot Gilkison (9) cooked flounder for the lunch, all the food for which was produced or gathered by pupils.

When pupils went to Omaui on a school trip, they gained permission to gather toheroa and went floundering, the fruits of which were included in the lunch, Mrs Stevenson said.

The lunch on Friday was entirely made by pupils, right down to the butter, she said.

“It’s been such good learning for them.”

They also had a visit from salami-maker Chris Thorne.

Pupils also had a tour of Retro Organics in Tuturau, Hokonui Pioneer Museum, where they learned how to make butter, she said, and visited The Bafe Bakery in Lumsden.

A visit to a dairy farm also helped inform pupils.