The Edible School Gardens Programs usually run for a 12 month period. Year 5 and/or Year 6 initially take on the program and learn about permaculture and design, and from this information the students come up with individual permaculture garden designs. From these designs we decide on a final design - the overall process is student-driven, with adult guidance.
The students/school source as many donations of materials and goods for the upcoming garden 'set up' day. On the set up day many parents/grandparents/teachers and students participate in the setting-up of the "no dig" garden and permaculture design. Participation of the greater school community is not only helpful, it is also one of the few areas of school life where parents, family friends, grandparents, can actively participate in a child's school life in a fun way, enjoy the beginning and understand what the child is talking about when they come home with progress updates and the like...
The garden is completed in a day. 2 weeks later, students are planting up the garden with herbs and seedlings of salads and vegetables. The students learn about organic methods of pest control and fertilization. They also enjoy, each week, tasting the food from the garden.
Each term a chef joins the students for a "cook-up" of the food from the garden - it's a taste sensation!
We have had many chefs come and join the students, (the likes of Matt Golinski & Katrina Ryan to name but a few) not only do the students get to enjoy the fruit of their labours, they also learn how to cook and prepare the various vegetables, giving them not only enjoyment, but the value of how important salads and vegetables are in our life and future health. We even eat off arrowroot leaves so that there are no disposables used, therefore the children are also being made very aware of how disposable our current society is and the damage that can cause, that need not happen. The leaves then go into the compost.
We also have Harvest days which are celebration days - days to celebrate the good food we have grown. These events may include dancers and music, as well as the beautiful food. Again, we try to include the local community in these days, it may be in the form of local musicians, artists, dancers, even family members who have particular cultural experience to impart, whatever is relevant to the local community in the school in question.
The students are constantly learning about the different methods of growing food organically, composting, worm farms and fun, the list goes on & on, and we hope that you will read further to see what other schools have learned, experienced, and personally profited from their exposure to an edible school garden...
The Edible School Gardens program is not a free service and schools are required to source funding to pay for the program.
Cost of a basic 12 month program, based on teaching students in the school garden once a fortnight is: $11,146 (once a fortnight for a 12 month period) or, on a weekly basis: $16,186 (for the 12 month period), which includes the basic set-up. Costings may vary depending on how many donations of goods are sourced for the project, obviously the more donations of products and of course old fashioned cold hard cash for the project, the better it is for the school. (prices 2008)
About The Edible School Garden Program
A brief overview of a once a week 12 month program
The program is initially best suited to years 5 or 6 students rather than younger students as we need to create a permaculture design for your school garden and this is too hard for most younger children to grasp.
First few week, a day a week a whole class at a time, the students will learn about permaculture, look at different designs around Australia (via computer) then come up with a desing themselves. We will discuss all designs and come up with a final design.
Once a design is completed, we will source as much second hand material as possible to reduce our impact on the environment and to reduce costs.
Then we have a Community day, it SET UP day, thats when all classes are involved, plus teachers, parents, grandparents and friends, its our garden make over day basically, where that boring batch of grass gets turned into a productive attractive garden. It is a very busy day but very rewarding. Our no dig gardens, herb spirals, arches, worm farms, compost systems will all be set up, depending on design. The garden area is approx 10m x 10m size.
Up to this stage we have taken whole classes at a time. Now that we have our garden at a working stage, we need to consider safety and the fact that most students have never had a vegetable garden, so our class sizes go down to 7 students every 1/2 hour. If there are parent or teacher volunteers this number can be increased.
The garden needs to settle for a couple of weeks then we start plant, usually around 300 seedlings on the first day.
Time to plant our vegie gardens out.
Learn and experience correct techniques for planting seeds, seedlings, plants and herbs, and the after care.
Then each week there are many jobs to be done besides planting and caring for our salads, vegetables and herbs, and of course Fun!
Other activities include
- tasting food
- learning about the health benefits of fresh food
- making connections between the food they are growing, and occasionally cooking with it (invite chefs to work with the students)
- making compost and creating green waste teams to collect food waste within your school
- feeding the worms and using worm castings and liquid.
- using compost in their garden system.
- making liquid manures and compost teas.
- learning natural pest control.
- growing mulch and harvesting it.
- seed saving
- respecting nature.
- learn about food miles
- have Harvest celebration feast with local chefs, dancers and musicians (where available).
- promoting the eating of fresh nutritious food as fun, tasty and enjoyable
- pest prevention
- waterwise gardening
- how gardening is a positive response to climate change and greenhouse effect
- Brix test your food
- understand how pH and Brix equipment work
As you can see, our Edible School Garden Program is more than just growing vegetables.