Department of Education

Sustainable Schools WA

Sustainable Schools WA

Harmony Primary


Harmony Primary School is a pilot school, commissioned by the State Government in 2004 to incorporate Ecological Sustainable Design (ESD) initiatives as an integral element of its built environment.

" Sustainability within our school has a huge start with the design of our buildings. There exists also, an expectation of all staff members to integrate into their teaching programs, a wide range of environmental issues.” Alison McKenzie, Sustainability Coordinator (2006).

To further enhance its ‘sustainability credentials’, the school community developed an Education for Sustainability (EfS) program based around a permaculture garden.

The initial phase of the garden commenced with a group of year six students working on a series of ‘value adding’ projects which raised the awareness levels of the school community. These included:
• producing worm chelate from classroom worm farms;
• shredding paper to reuse as planter pots; and
• growing a variety of herbs to make our own potpourri sachets.

Each of these items were sold within the school community to raise funds for reinvestment in other micro projects.

 A small area (12mx14m) of poor soil close to the staff car park was identified as an appropriate area for the next phase of the garden. Using the technology process of ‘investigating, devising, producing and evaluating’, students were encouraged to incorporate the design principles of a permaculture garden where every element can have as many as three functions. Using a range of mathematical concepts, students measured the area and ‘stepped out’ the possible size of vegetable beds. The use of recycled materials for the construction of the beds was investigated, including corrugated iron and tractor tyres. Students wrote articles for a neighbourhood publication and the local paper to raise awareness within the community.

Vegetable beds were constructed and a small chicken run was completed with parent help. Four chickens that had been reared by the year ones as part of their science studies were housed in the run. By the end of 2006, the first stages of the permaculture garden had been completed with the P&C group funding the cyclone fencing which helped to secure the developing garden.


 Ideas generated by the students were presented to the P&C group, and assistance with funding requested. Early assistance arrived from parents who helped construct the first long beds made from recycled iron purchased from a local scrap yard. Another parent supplied the use of his bobcat to move the large amount of soil purchased by funds provided by the P&C group. A tractor tyre was also donated to use as a central pond.

2007 saw the decision making process move from a small group of students being involved to a more whole school arrangement, and to a sustained and responsive set of actions/activities across K-7.

In 2008, the school successfully applied for a Federal Government grant for the implementation of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation (SAKGF) program in the school. This provided significant impetus to the permaculture garden and related activities/programs, and included the installation of an intensive growing system of aquaponics.

In 2010, the first anniversary of the SAKGF program was celebrated. It now included 220 students, 11 classes and teachers, over 50 volunteers, 140 learning sessions in the kitchen and garden, and a part-time kitchen specialist and garden specialist.

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Harmony Primary

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