School community creates recipe book Love, Lee Street

School community creates recipe book Love, Lee Street
Carol Saffer

The annual Carlton North Primary School Fete is the major fundraising event organised by the parents of the kids who attend the school.

Mum Sarah Kelk describes the fete as the biggest fundraiser by a country mile.

“The school requires quite a lot of extra funding as we don’t get enough money as a school to run without it,” Ms Kelk said.

For the past two years, during COVID, the fete was cancelled.

When the money started getting low in the parents’ fundraising piggy bank, the fundraising team, comprised of parents and a couple of staff members, rallied and brainstormed.

When the idea of a cookbook was bought to the table, everyone loved it and decided to give it a go.

Ms Kelk said, “We needed another way to raise the money, and we wanted to continue to have a community feel just like the fete.”

“We didn’t know how much work was involved when we agreed to the idea, in particular, because the community was in lockdown,” she added.

It was a brave decision to create a recipe book without realising what was involved.

“We were probably naive in thinking it would be fine,” Ms Kelk said.

Doing food photography in the middle of heavy lockdown where visits to homes were forbidden meant their volunteer photographer, Elise Scott, Ms Kelk’s friend, did the shoot in a laneway outside her apartment.

On one occasion, Ms Kelk’s kids were in the car doing Zoom school lessons while she and Ms Scott used the boot as the food assembly area for the shoot.

Because the book’s creation was logistically challenging, everyone involved is even more proud of the finished product.

The team canvassed the school’s pupils’ families and the local cafes, shops, and bars for recipes.

The recipes needed to be easy enough for anyone to cook.

“If a Grade 6 kid picked up the book, they needed to be able to follow and cook any recipe in it literally,” Ms Kelk said.


We wanted everyone to be proud of the book.


The children did drawings for the book as an art project during the lockdown.

Consequently, peppered among the pages of the book are their hand-drawn pictures.

The first batch of printed books was delivered in early November 2021.

Support and involvement came not just from the school and family alliance.

Local businesses supported the project by providing recipes while Readings in Carlton and The Little Book Room in North Fitzroy stock the finished book.

Local real estate agency Nelson Alexander contributed a generous donation that went a long way to cover the printing costs.

MS Kelk said, “We call it a country school in the city because we have a school roll of under 300 children, from Prep to Grade 6 with ages from 5 to 12 years, and everyone knows everyone else.”

At the beginning of the recipe book idea, the fundraising team pulled a group of parents and supporters together to discover they had a lot of the skill set needed to produce the book.

The only external person contributing during COVID was Ms Scott, the photographer, who was thrilled to assist as she could not work during the lockdown.

Ms Kelk said there was a book publisher at the school, someone who had worked in printing for a long time and many people who worked in visual fields.

“One family runs a digital marketing agency, so they helped with the layout by getting a print file ready,” she said.

It was very fortunate that the fundraising gang could call on the local community to utilise its strengths.

A challenge like this during lockdown turned out to be very welcome.

Some of the helpers and their children were the recipe testers; staying home, they cooked and checked the validity and ease of the recipes.

The first print run of Love, Lee Street was 1500 copies.

The fundraising group take a stall at the local farmers market, held on the school grounds every fortnight, to sell the books.

Most recipes in the book include the name of the creator/provider, often with a background story of its popularity and origin.

Ms Kelk thinks that just maybe there were lots of aunties, uncles and grandparents who found the Love, Lee Street book, a celebration of food, family and community under their Christmas tree last year •

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