Bush tucker, butterflies and a bumper harvest!

Building on 12 years of support of Junior Landcare programs and initiatives, 13 projects funded by Yates Australia in 2016 have engaged more than 1,100 students and 100 volunteers in a variety of hands-on, outdoor learning experiences.

A food forest, a butterfly garden, a native sensory garden, a rainforest project, and an outdoor classroom are just some of the exciting projects that have come to fruition in schools across five states as part of last year’s Design and Be Inspired in the Garden Program.

Students in Queensland’s Agnes Water State School learnt a valuable range of diverse new skills through taking part in seed collecting, planting, mulching and harvesting, and preparing tasty treats from the food grown in their own garden.  The school’s Enviro Group and Garden Club did an amazing job converting corrugated raised beds into wicking beds and planting them with seeds, digging additional beds for a food forest, and caring for the garden until the food was ready.

Students at Agnes Water State School in Queensland celebrate a bumper harvest.

Kate Lucas, a teacher at the school was impressed with how the students learnt while working on the project.

“The Enviro group students really enjoyed collecting the seed from plants that had gone to seed. It was a discovery for them about how plants flower and then seed differently, and they talked to each other about the best way to gather the different species. We have now a good stockpile of seeds for cooking and replanting such as marigolds, dill, coriander and lettuce.”

Victoria’s Beaumaris Primary School had fantastic involvement in its native sensory garden and outdoor learning area project, with 500 students and 40 volunteers getting their hands dirty.  The school had two working bees, inviting the whole school community to be involved, and saw great turn-outs.  In preparation for the first working bee, weeds were removed, and garden areas were dug and levelled.  The working bees saw garden beds marked out, Indigenous grasses planted, seating areas completed, and mulch laid, ready for the whole garden to be planted.

Garden Club Coordinator at the school, Vanessa Fitzgerald, witnessed how excited the students were to be part of the project that provided the opportunity to get involved on a hands-on level from the ideas stage right through to completion.

“Lunchtime and recess sessions in the new garden have been very popular, with digging and watering being the favourite activities or simply asking questions about what happens next.”

Projects like these are a hugely important element of the Junior Landcare program, which focuses on not only educating children about their natural environment, but engaging them in hands-on activities as a way of learning and become environmentally aware.

The Yates funded program also offers schools the flexibility to realise projects that meet the needs of their own communities, landscape and resources. Alongside the project funding, Yates provides gardening products that suit the specific projects as well as a consultation with a gardening expert, offering invaluable expertise and knowledge to help the project succeed.

Through immersing themselves in these projects, students have learnt new skills and knowledge focussed on growing, where food comes from, biodiversity, healthy ecosystems, and working towards a more sustainable and resilient natural environment.  With Junior Landcarers like these in action, the future of our environment is in great hands!

The good news for schools and day cares who like the sound of these Garden Grants is that the Design and Be Inspired in the Garden Grant program is running again this year and applications are now open.  You can find out all the information you need about this program as well as free step-by-step guides to help kick off a Junior Landcare project in your school or community.

Visit www.juniorlandcare.org.au

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