A local school has introduced a new gardening program involving garden design and cooking competitions to help educate students on food nutrition and reduce chronic disease. On Tuesday, December 12, Rangeway Primary School launched a new EON Foundation edible garden program, giving students the opportunity to design garden beds — including an orchard and bush tucker patch — and get involved in cooking tomato relish and zucchini fritters. The Thriving Communities Program celebrates homegrown produce and will run for five years, something which principal Karin van Dongen has been advocating for since she began in the role in 2022. Ms van Dongen said the program would relay healthy messaging to students and was proven to reduce chronic disease and poor nutrition in participants. “Our students face enormous barriers that prevent them from attending school regularly, including poverty, lack of access to three meals a day and the flow-on negative impacts on children’s physical and mental health,” she said. “Rangeway Primary School has one of the lowest Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) ratings in WA, however, we’re determined to not let this prevent our students from high achievements.” Ms van Dongen said the school wanted to see all children in WA feeling safe, valued, and ready to learn. “I’m very excited about cooking with the kids using our own produce, the new canteen manager will use produce from the garden too. The program will have a positive impact on many parts of the school and our extended community,” she said. Activities included pot decoration and take-home seed planting, collaborative garden design art activity and cooking relish, zucchini fritters, chicken and veggie skewers and fruit skewers.