Cooran State School
Is sponsored by Slow Food Noosa Kitchen Garden Project.
The whole school is involved in the Edible Kitchen Garden project and the community, not just the school community, have been following the progress of the garden and also supporting it. There is a real sense of community.
I teach at the school once a fortnight and have a team of parents that help me on those days, this is for 2 reasons
a) to train the parents so that they can garden with the students the weeks I'm not there and
b) to increase the numbers of students we can have in the garden at each session, the more adults the more students that are able to participant.
Set up day was 7th August and many of the local businesses and families contributed to the successful day, in fact nearly everything was donated and our set up costs were less than $500, which isn't much for a highly productive organic garden set up.
Set up day was a hive of activity with many parents coming for a couple of hours or the whole day. The local landscape business was on call in case we needed any other supplies delivered, of which they donated. The tuckshop convenor, with help from the groundsman, worked tirelessly collecting beautiful big rocks from his property. The rocks, especially on our Herb spiral, are a real feature of the garden. Those man were unstoppable on the day, of which we are very grateful.
All students worked hard on the day but the preps were the solid workers of the day. I would give them their jobs and off they went soaking and laying newspaper, spreading minerals, moving small rocks, spreading compost and watering. They were so good, we got them back for the last hour again to help us complete the garden.
By the end of August we had hundreds of seedlings planted, plus herbs and seeds. 2 weeks later, I couldn't believe how much those plants and seeds had grown and in 4 weeks we had to harvest most of the lettuces and asian greens and also about 27 zucchinis, absolutely amazing for 3 weeks growth.
Our food is totally organic and has had its fair share of challenges with hot, dry weather, but we still have achieve remarkable results.
Stage 2 - 2010
Over the school holidays we put in a green manure crop to rest most of the gardens, some were still productive so they were left to flourish and any parent/students that came to water the gardens over the holidays were rewarded with organic produce.
In 2010 we saw the whole school get involved in the garden program, that was a new class every half hour, which was an enormous amount of activities in a day and you have to be very organised so that students have a job straight away. Thankfully I always had lots of volunteers that came every fortnight so they knew the students, the garden and the systems I taught I couldnt have done it without them.
We always started with a game, it helps settle us all into our garden space. Different games were celebrity veg, alphabet vegies, find a ¦., blindfold game name that plant, what herb smell belongs to what plant, compost game, food miles activity, pollination game (thats a favourite) and the list is endless. Games over and time to break into groups such as diary recording, bug patrol, worm and compost feeding, when emptying the compost what bugs do we see, emptying restaurant scraps into compost and noting how much is thrown out as food rubbish, moisture testing of soil, pH tests, pest monitoring, making salads and taste testing, planting seeds, seedlings and paints. There is always plenty to do in a garden.
The parents have set up a Gardening Club before school and that is really popular, the kids just love it and the garden is a hub of activity so early in the morning. This is a positive sign that having an organic school garden does have a positive impact on the behalf of the students and they are also rewarded by being able to take produce home, which is a favourite. It is also a healthy sign that the project will continue as the parents and students, supported by the principal and teachers, have embraced the garden and continued it with the students, the students are also going to be having a garden committee.
Thanks to Slow Food Noosa for sponsoring the Kitchen School Garden Program for the last 18 months and especially for providing us with talented chefs to cook with the students, the Harvest Days are a highlight for the students, the excitement of having a chef work with them and the new tastes and experiences from cooking several dishes.
I would like to thank the principal Geoff Pelling, staff, all the students and the parents for being so supportive of my book Eat Your Garden, Organic gardening for home and schools, and for coming in over weekends and after school hours to complete the extra photos and tasks I required. I couldnt have done it without you.