Pacific Paradise State School. 

Sponsored by Qld Community Gambling Fund.

Years 6,  3, 4 and 5's are involved in the Edible School Gardens program on a weekly basis.  These primary  students  learnt about permaculture design over 3 sessions and came up with their designs.  Already in our garden space were 2 raised bed gardens made years earlier by the groundsman and some Dads, so we wanted to respect the work they had already put into this space and made our design around these beds.  The students, as is often the case in many primary schools, are very patriotic and wanted the letters of their school PPSS in the design, so we made the head of the ‘P’s into herb spirals  and the rest of the garden beds – love heart, wave  and the SS into raised bed gardens.  Unfortunately it poured during  the day, so not as much was achieved on the day but we have continued to make more garden beds during normal gardening classes.  At the end of  set up day there were quite a few  muddied children -  luckily in their old gardening clothes.  The students have so much fun regardless of the weather.

From set up is the careful planting of our seedlings which are bursting out of the ground in no time at all begging to be eaten – and we all oblige, cooking up different salad combinations.  In each class when we do cooking in our make shift kitchen garden, we have about 4 different recipes going at once and its important that I don’t always provide recipes and that the students think about what would go together and invent some incredibly tasty salad dressings just from using fresh herbs from the garden.  The students will taste each salad and then make comment and finally we take a vote on the best salad and that goes into our cookbook.   Alizah & Eliana Lemon mint dressing;  lemon balm, chocolate mint and small amount white vinegar into pestle and pound gently with mortar until liquefied.  Yummy

On my way to work the other morning (8am)I had to stop for petrol and when I went to pay for it, inside where all these very young primary aged students buying lollies (whole chocolate bars not just a lolly) ice creams and soft drinks/energy boost drinks – it made me  feel sick.  Then I drove onto work and the students are in their Edible School Gardens eating all the snow peas/sugarsnap peas and looking for strawberries – what a relief and a reminder of what I am so passionate about having edible gardens in schools and making a difference to their eating habits.

I have my 4 full classes during the day but also in morning tea and lunchtime breaks I also have any other students that want to be involved come along and help and this is a great opportunity to expose other students to the fun of Edible School Gardens.  At Pacific Paradise State School I must commend them of the excellent behaviour of their students, they just get on with the garden jobs happily and are very polite, also to the groundsman Col and his assistant Rob, thank you to you both for giving me a extra hand if I require it.  The wonderful  ladies in the tuckshop/canteen that use the garden produce in their kitchen for the tastiest soups during winter.  The whole school is just so supportive of the Edible School Gardens program and makes my job such a pleasure which is especially good as they are my Friday school and my last school for the working week.

Besides planting, cooking, making scarecrows,  composting,  worm farms, extending gardens we have also been having ‘organic food stalls’, this is an opportunity to teach the students about promoting/marketing, having a float, profit/expenses,  display and customer liaison.  The students love the whole experience and are very enthusiastic sales people.  The money raised from our stalls goes toward any cooking materials we need.  We asked the school community to clean out their cupboards and donate any cooking materials eg: bowls, measuring cups to us as we try to use recycled items wherever possible and it creates a sense of community.

Speaking of recycling, the sustainability group is in charge of the compost tumblers.  Each break the sustainablily team collect the ‘organic waste’ bins and take them to the tumblers, here they have a choice of  Ian – principal, Bruce – Vice principal or Col – groundsman, they place their scraps in the preferred compost and see who produces the best compost , a bit of fun.

Since day 1 we have been filming (Eco Films) the whole Edible School Gardens process and this DVD will be available next year.,47

Pacific Paradise Update december 2011

Gardening is always an organic process and just because you have planned for 25 activities that day so that all students have something to do, it doesn’t necessarily mean it going to work like that, you have to take into consideration weather, how the students are feeling, what deliveries have arrived eg: seedlings, seeds and what has nature thrown at us this week that we might need to deal with first eg: if it is really hot do we need to make some shelters for the plants or if it has hailed do we need to prune plants to help recovery, is frost due....  

An  example at Pacific Paradise school was that  the students wanted to add fruit trees and natives to our edible gardens area and they had started to dig the holes the week before, very hard work, the ground was as hard as a rock and really did give those strong year 6 girls and boys a run for their money  and all the younger students that had a good go too(who ever said gardening wasn’t exercise!!!) .   

During the week I was lucky enough to have someone phone me and ask if I was interested in a truckload of cow candy (shredded sugar cane mulch with molasses)  - of course I was, so approx 13 cubic metres of mulch was delivered -  that’s what I call a xmas present.  As I drove in and saw this magnificent resource I changed my whole plan for the fruit trees.

A lot of the mulch was still in compacted blocks so we used this to make surrounds for our fruit tree hole, over the holes we placed  compost bins that we already had, add some minerals, food scraps and mulch into the bin (compost bin) and for the rest of term 4 these will be used as a compost system, using the students food scraps and mulch,  and  will continue to break down over the holidays building up our soil fertility for our fruit trees early next year – a brillant solution (on site) for our problem of hard soil.  And don’t boys (and some girls) just love to dig, they could not have been happier digging those fruit trees holes (and they were very deep) and piling the mulch into wheelbarrows. 

I would love to borrow these students and put them to work on my property,  I would have everything finished in a day.  Students just love getting struck into their edible school gardens and they are very proud of them.  Each week we also do some cooking in our make shift kitchen, on the rare occasion we use a recipe (Coleslaw, Noodle salads, Rice paper rolls for example) but most of the time it is left to them to create their own recipe and work as a team bringing that together for the class, it works very well and we have some mouth-watering recipes.

Jack & Michaels recipe.  Tomatoes, nasturtium flowers, lemon balm, fennel, kale, silverbeet, snow peas and spring onions (all from our garden)  salad dressing; raw sugar, soy sauce, olive oil and vinegar combined.  Mix together.     Its all so simple, 100% nutritious,  grown by the students and eaten by the students.  I am at my proudest when I see my students eating the fresh food from their vegetable garden.

The students want to create their own newsletter about their Edible School Gardens, we will get that off the ground next year – this will be one paper you won’t want to compost!!!

Pacific Paradise Update 2012

2012 Our first day back and it is a very busy day. We have a green manure crop, that is taller than me, that needs to be cut down and turned in. Green Manure is our soil building program, we plant the crop at the end of term 4 and turn it in at the start of term 1. The students love this day as the whole class can participate and it only takes minutes to give instructions then everyone is busy. This year the 4 classes that are involved with the edible school gardens program have moved into classrooms in front of the garden , they can enjoy looking out to their garden all year round and keep an eye on students that have been sent out to do jobs during the week.

 We have 4 priorities for term 1 & 2, plant native/bush tucker plants, plant kids snack trees, have a harvest festival and to hand the program over to the garden classes/teachers before my funding finishes.Thanks to Coolum Native Nursery for donating the following plants for our native/bush tucker garden. We also planted our Kids snack food forest ; Acerola cherry, Grumichana, Jaboticaba, Lemon myrtle, Miracle Fruit, Mulberry and Passionfruits. There are still many other fruits the children wanted to  plant. The students were involved with deciding which plants they wanted, or which plants are appropriate for their garden.

Even though on the Sunshine Coast we have had an incrediable amount of constant heavy rain this year, our edible garden still managed to flourish. Parents were invited to be part of our Harvest Day in June. As always its a hive of activity as classes harvested the freshest food from our garden.Workstations were set up for students to cook with parents. Students dressed up as farmers and activities were organised in the garden to add to the festive feeling. All the food was brought together to a central room and served out, picnic rugs set up and the students enjoy a meal that they all cooked. Lots of colour, lots of flavour, lots of fun.

July 2012 The project has now been handed over to the 4 classes that have gardened with me. It is always a sad day saying goodbye to the students (and teachers) and the students cant understand why I cant be there all the time, how do you explain funding of healthy projects only lasts for a certain period of time.

I have loved working at Pacific Paradise State School, at every level of this school from groundsman, super tuckershop cooks, teachers, office girls, cleaners, admin and principal I was supported in and with the Edible School Gardens program. It is such a pleasure to be supported at every level and such a joy. The students were so enthusiastic, not only running out for every garden class but also spending their lunch breaks working in the garden with me. 

Eco Films filmed the Edible School Gardens DVD mainly at this school and the school allowed us to recall the program for 12 months. Just such a delight to have taught at this school and I will miss you all so much.