BOGI Meeting

Penny Ossowski

Have I reported before that there was hardly a spare chair inthe hall, well we were searching everywhere for anotherchair as members kept arriving for the Novembermeeting.  In the end there were a few who stood around thewalls so they wouldn’t miss out on the superb presentation by Leonie Shanahan.

Graeme started the meeting by announcing we had just receivedan application from BOGI’s 800th member.  We are sure itwould be a first for BOGI.  Next Graeme allocated BOGIbuddies for our new members and then it was over to Leonie.

It is always inspiring to listen to a speaker who is so passionateabout their subject.  Leonie told us how she started Edible School Gardens and wrote her book and why.  She started with the question “Who wants fresh food and to be vibrant and happy”followed by “Why do we eat/feed all this processed food (fruitsticks etc)”  Leonie picked out a parent andchild from theaudience and presented them with a few litres of brown liquid inbottles and asked would you feed  your child this amount ofchemicals?, this is what we are doing with all the processed foodwe give them.   (The brown liquid was only molasses andwas given to the parent and child from the audience to takehome)>

Leonietold us how it was originally a constant battle to get intoschools but it paid off.  Her vision is “To develop ediblegardens within school communities that will encourage healthyeating habits”.  

She teaches children about permaculture and design and then thechildren do the original designs for their gardens,  theydraw them out then go outside and mark them out in the allottedarea and make decisions as to what is in and  what isout.  Children learn about sustainability and recyclingresources e.g. if they bring one brick each from home it saves alot of money and goes a long way in the garden.  On setupday parents, children and other community volunteers all cometogether to get the work done.  Following are some briefpoints from Leonie’s presentation.

Leonie always builds no-dig gardens, it is unknown what soil willbe like and if there is any contamination;  a  herbspiral, worm towers and even a banana circle.

One school had a lot of bamboo so it was utilised throughout thegardens.

Mulch plants such as comfrey and lemongrass are useful forholding a bank together.

Use a lot of seedlings in garden beds.

Mix plantsup

  • It is important to have a variety ofplants even some bitter ones for the kids to try.
  • Kids record what they do etc. in ‘My Garden Journal’
  • Have a lolly garden e.g. fennel,chocolate mint, nasturtiums, cherry tomatoes.
  • Use aleo vera for bites
  • With kids if one likes it or eventries they wall want to do it, peer pressure works well.
  • Harvest Day Festival celebrates whatthey have grown and shares the produce
  • Children can be very creative withingredients, soups and quiches are good
  • Learn about animal care
  • Build scarecrows, worm farms
  • Learn how to make compost
  • Over the summer holidays take out asmuch as possible and put in a green manure crop.  Thecheapest of these is bird seed.
  • We need to cut out a lot of what isserved in tuckshops
  • A freshly picked lunch grown andnurtured by students

Some hints

  • Get kids gardening gloves and helpthem to put them on
  • Get real tools
  • Grow gourds;  they have a lot ofuses
  • Moisture meters are good as kids lovewatering
  • Hang a cake of soap in a stocking atthe tap (if hands aren’t washed straight away they won’t bewashed later)
  • Buy good quality watering cans – nottoo large for kids
  • Have lots of sensory things in thegarden – rocks, mulches, things for smelling, tasting, feeling
  • Get soils right
  • Landscaper’s soil is dead
  • Add minerals we need into soils
  • There is more than one way to garden

Leonie was asked if she had any feedback from parents, herresponse – some parents complained to having to grow vegetablesat home, some said their children complained if there were noveggies on their plates

Thank you Leonie for sharing your experiences with us.