The staff and children of the Little Dove childcare centre in Fairlight (87-95 Balgowlah Road) are counting down to 10.30am on Monday 10 May 2010 when they will be presented with a $200 cheque by the Mayor of Manly, Councillor Jean Hay; along with a ‘Ready, Set, Grow!’ school food garden start-up pack donated by Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and presented by the Co-captain of the team, Jason King.

The Little Dove childcare centre is the first pre-school in the Manly area to benefit under the ‘Ready, Set, Grow!’ School Food Garden Workshop programme designed to help pre, primary and high school students grow and eat their own healthy fruit and vegetables using start-up packs which include a compost bin, worm-farm, Bunnings Warehouse gift voucher and other gardening resources.

The ‘Ready, Set, Grow!’ programme is presented jointly by Manly Council, Manly Environment Centre, Northern Beaches Health Promotion Unit, Kimbriki Eco House & Garden and the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.

“The new Ready, Set, Grow program offers schools in the Manly area the opportunity to learn about growing a successful fruit and vegetable garden, have experts visit the schools as well as access to a ‘support person’ for  help and free programme support resources,” said Councillor Hay

“Many schools are now realising the value of having a school food garden.”

“They get students interested in fruit and vegetables, but they can also be an excellent tool to learn about nutrition, reducing food waste and carbon footprints, biology, maths and much more.”

Peter Rutherford from Kimbriki Eco House & Garden said:  “We feel the most important first step for each school to take is to establish a well structured and managed composting system for all food waste generated in the school, including school canteens.”

“Once composting is established this becomes a key to feeding and maintaining an edible organic garden and demonstrates and teaches the importance of managing our own waste.”

Director of Little Dove Fairlight, Theresa Fuller, said:

“While schools may have the desire and maybe even the funding to start or further develop a school food garden, they may not have the full gardening expertise. That’s where the ‘Ready, Set, Grow’ program kicks in.

“Participants learn all about school food gardens and how to use school gardens to teach children and parents about growing and eating healthy food whilst looking after the environment.”