Sunshine Beach Primary School

Sponsored by Slow Food Noosa   

My daughters' school.  When I arrived on the Sunshine Coast, they already had a permaculture garden at the school which had been designed by Geoff Lawton and Dave Clark.  It had a frog pond and lots of fruit trees surrounding the vegie garden.

They had designed it knowing there would be times when the garden wouldn't be used but with the fruit trees it would still be productive and look good.  Working as a volunteer with the students, we got the vegie gardens up and running again.

The school offered me a job working one on one in the garden with students with behavioural problems.  We had very busy lessons and achieved lots.  It was a very rewarding experience working with these kids and seeing the difference that working in the garden on a Monday made to their behaviour for the rest of the week.

Years down the track, one boy in particular came to visit me and told me how he had set up a vegie garden at his High School and was doing everything I taught him!!!

I then successfully got funding to run the edible school gardens program at the school, taking groups from different classes but unfortunately I had to leave that school because I wasn't getting any support for the program from the teachers.  They loved the idea but no one was prepared to follow through with the simple tasks I had asked of them such as watering new seedlings.
It took me a long time to work out why I couldn't run a successful program at my own children's school whereas I could at others - the answer - I was seen as a parent doing gardening, not as an educator coming in to run a special program.

I naturally wanted this garden to be the show piece of Edible School Gardens as it was my children's school and I was happy to put in extra time but a successful garden requires more than one person.  The garden remains idle, but the fruit trees continue to produce.

NOTE: As the Edible School Gardens program is being developed and constantly improved, it is important that I look back on each school and evaluate how the program ran in that school and if it could have been done differently to make it more successful.   Here I talk honestly about all those things that could have been done differently so that hopefully you won't make the same mistakes.

Update January 2009:

It is encouraging to speak with many parents that are keen to get the permaculture garden running again.  I will work with parents in helping them revive the garden, all the systems are there, they just need activating.  I'm excited to know that my first ever school garden will be happening again.

Slow Food Noosa have sponsored me to go back into Sunshine Beach State School this year, once a month, to re-charge there permaculture garden and teach the new parents and teachers about the program and demonstrate to them the processes of the Edible School Garden Program.  There is a huge support from parents arriving each gardening day to join in with the students, and the teachers are using the garden as a teaching tool  The plants causing the most interest in the garden are wasabi lettuce (that's hot) and chocolate mint (tastes like chocolate).  The students aren't hestitating to eat their produce.  We have some very determined scrub turkeys which are being successful at getting into parts of our edible school garden and causing us many problems.

Katrina Ryan from Slow Food Noosa has had a harvest day with the students, cooking up some lunch with the students.  The students had a wonderful day and Katrina thoroughly enjoyed teaching the students and seeing how excited the kids were to pick, then cook up their own lunch.