Classroom to plate

Cooking lessons have long been a favourite with students at Mayfield East Public School (MEPS). Now the community has come together to create a delicious collection of their most treasured recipes, and to raise funds in support of the school’s kitchen garden program.

COVID has had a tangible impact on our school community. Parents weren’t seeing each other as often as they used to, and connections to the business community had also become a bit dormant,” explained Ruth Forster from the MEPS Parents & Citizens group (P&C).

“Besides, the P&C had decided to make the Kitchen Garden Program the focus of our fundraising activities for this school year.

So, we came up with the idea of a community cookbook to start conversations, to re-ignite connections and to showcase the wonderful impact cooking lessons and caring for the kitchen garden have on our students.”

Kitchen Garden teacher Jack Symons added, “I loved the idea. But in my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have predicted the reception and commitment from so many people, groups and businesses in making this cookbook a reality.”

The P&C asked students, parents, community groups and businesses to submit recipes and to support the project. The result is a culinary treasure trove of more than 100 recipes.

“Mayfield East is a unique corner in a rapidly changing Newcastle. Being a part of this harmonious community and observing the families who live here interact with each other, feels so natural and authentic. Everybody seems to know everyone else, and Mayfield East Public School is a beautiful microcosm of this wonderful community,” Jack said.

This year he has encouraged students to try new things and flavours, to cook outside-the-box meals with produce they have diligently cared for, watering, weeding and finally harvesting.

From kangaroo sausage rolls and banana ice cream to tofu ramen, tacos, pizzas and (almost) everything in between, they were challenged to taste unfamiliar food, and to gain insights into what it takes to get food from the garden bed onto the plate. The students loved every minute of it, sharing their feedback with trademark adolescent candor.

“I have had the best year in school ever and my favourite bit is Kitchen and Garden because I learned how to cook,” Marion declared.

“I learned that you need to water plants and let them grow for a certain amount of time before harvesting,” revealed Liam. And Eden added, “we cooked all kinds of things we might not like but it is good to try new things. It was funny when Liam ate celery from the garden and sneezed it out of his nose!”

Major Corporate Sponsors:
NCIG, Port Waratah Coal Services
Corporate Sponsors:

Bradley Page – Dowling Property Group, Hunter Drama, MOJO Homes, Sharon Claydon, Wemoosh
Business Sponsors:
An Apple a Day, Built by Eli, Chiefly West Sandwiches, Core Health Consulting, Davies Shoes, Farrar & Sons Bakehouse, Hunter Valley Meats, Mason’s Lawyers, Mayfield BIA, Mayfield Medical Connection, Onyx, Pork Ewe Deli, Roy’s, Thompson’s Auto Service, Tim Crakanthorp, Verve Conveyancing
Fundraising Supporters:
CakeBoi, John Hersee Master Painters, Lord Mayor of Newcastle Nuatali Nelmes, Nash and Dash Markets, Perry The Feeder, Side Pocket Cafe, The Equium Social, The Bank of Seeds

Find an exclusive recipe in our Summer Edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.

Story by Cornelia Schulze, photography by Ieva Faulker, courtesy of Mayfield East Public School Parents & Citizens Group.