Tewantin State School

sponsored by Kingfisher Boat Hire

Tewantin State School Tewantin State School is sponsored by Kingfisher boat hire.
It is a 12 month program running once a fortnight.  It is well supported by all at the Special Education Unit, lots of teachers and the Principal.  Years 4, 5, 6 and Special Ed students are involved in the program.

Students learned about permaculture and then a design evolved.Set up day was from 8am to 3pm and in this time our grassy patch was transformed into 10m x 12m no dig vegie gardens with a herb spiral, tank gardens, compost area, arches, a water tank and a worm tower.

We started digging the banana circle/compost pit but struck hard clay which water wouldn't penetrate quickly, so had to fill the hole back in as a safety precaution.  We will prepare an area for bananas later.  A permit is required to grow bananas. The students are so excited at the end of the set up day having thoroughly enjoyed getting dirty and seeing the garden come into being.  They have endless questions for their teacher...

"When do we garden again?"
"When do we plant the plants?"
"What can we plant?".  The garden has created enormous excitement and pride in the students but they must wait 2 weeks for the no dig gardens to settle before planting.

End of June...  300 seedlings get planted - lettuce (about 8 varieties), english spinach, silverbeet, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, spring onions, chives, beetroot, parsley, basil, thyme, lovage, rosemary, sugarsnap peas, beans, fennel, dill, pak choy, tatsoi, snow peas, celery, tomatoes, leeks, coriander, zucchini, strawberries plus health giving herbs such as lebanese cress and herb robert for the herb spiral.  We still have some beds spare - one is going to be an edible flowers bed, another a grains bed and also an asian herbs bed.

End of July...  Seedlings have powered along over the school holidays.  Teachers are starting to use the garden by doing some cooking with the students and also harvesting the leaves from the salad and asian greens and bagging them up for sale to parents and teachers.  We planted another 150 seedlings.  All students are waiting anxiously for the strawberries and sugarsnap peas.  We had 2 volunteers work with us today, a student studying nutrition at University and one of the grandmothers.  Thank you both.
Generally students come out in groups of 7 every 1/2 hour. Once the students become more familiar with the garden and the maintenance processes, I will be able to take larger groups into the garden.


The school project stopped abruptly at the end of August due to our initial sponsor Hilton Terrace Petrol Station withdrawing.  I had only been at this school for a few months and I hadn't prepared the teachers to take over the project, in fact we were still setting up systems in the garden.  I couldn't afford for this project to stop.  Thankfully a local business came to the rescue, Kingfisher Boat Hire generously picking up the sponsorship until April 2009.  The students were very happy to have me back in the garden with them.  Each fortnight I am also joined by permaculture grandmother Shirley and she is invaluable.

Each session the students firstly taste whatever veggies, salads or herbs that are ready to eat, its always a treat for them.  Then its fertilizing with seaweed and worm juice, composting, look for bugs, games, preparing beds for planting and seed saving.  We are busy trying to build up the organic matter at the banana (semi) circle as at the moment it was hard as a rock, the students are already observing an increase in worm and insect activity.  The groundsman, Ross, is a great help delivering grass clippings and other cuttings that are useful for soil building programs.  You can never have too much organic matter.

Each week the teachers from the Special Education Unit cook from the garden not only with the SPU but students from other classes too.

The last week of term we pulled out the majority of the plants, dividing the produce up between all the students that wanted to take some home for dinner, then set up 3 compost systems for the summer holidays, I black bin, 1 aerobin and large berkeley method compost, without the turning on this occasion, all of these will be ready the start of term 1.  We planted a green manure crop of mung beans and millet into all beds, these will be turned in when we get back in 2009.  We look at the summer holidays as a good opportunity to rest the beds and to build the compost and soils up for the start of the next year.  Teachers and grandparents will drop in and water the gardens if it hasn't rained for a while, being our wet season I hope this wont be necessary so we can all have a holiday.