Department of Education

Sustainable Schools WA

Sustainable Schools WA

Sustainable Schools WAAction Learning AreasStudent Wellbeing ‹ Swan Valley Anglican Community School

Swan Valley Anglican Community School


Activity

A productive school garden has been developed in the heart of the Swan Valley Anglican Community School (SVACS) campus. The garden has several components including a series of vegetable beds, an orchard of fruit trees, chickens, a system for recycling school waste such as scrap paper and food scraps, an outdoor classroom and a wetland/nature area.

The catalyst for this project was largely the fact that the school and suburb have been developed on an area that was previously bush and wetland, and drainage issues at the school made it almost inevitable that the school would have its own pond/wetland area. Josh Byrne, known for his work on promoting permaculture systems, worked with knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff to establish a facility to support Education for Sustainability (EfS) within the school's curriculum.

Students are fully involved in growing fruit and vegetables in the garden and then using the produce within the classroom. Children will see how the school's food scraps and waste paper can be recycled into compost and liquid plant feed via a series of worm farms and compost bays.

Over time, the natural areas will continue to grow and to provide an opportunity for children to 'get close to nature' and observe natural processes within the school grounds. The garden will also provide an inspirational place for students to be and work.

The area will be used by all students on the K - 12 campus (currently K - 8) and will be used to support learning across all curriculum areas.

Students who were involved in initial planting sessions and in the development of the garden were filmed and shown on national TV, and the school and various students have also appeared in a national monthly gardening magazine. The school has held regular busy bees which have helped unite the school community around the garden and celebrate its growth. The garden was part of the 2007 Open Garden Scheme at which the school celebrated its official opening.

Community Partnerships

For the project to get off the ground, links had to be made with Josh Byrne, the ABC, Earthcare, Awesome Arts and Multiplex (the developer of the school's suburb of Aveley). An amount of funding for the garden had to be found for the project. As the development of the garden was to be filmed and aired on National TV, it had to be linked with the marketing of the school.

The school has also had donations of time and equipment, and plants from suppliers and parents. Some of these were as a result of the school's direct interactions with the community, others via the work of Josh Byrne. The school has worked in close partnership with Josh and the ABC in the development of physical structures, key concepts and practical advice, and has continued to work with Earthcare on the project as well as with the parent body.

There were a number of challenges associated with the project as this type of EfS activity in WA schools is still relatively new. Understanding how best to timetable lessons and what specific links with the school curriculum should be made will develop over time with experience.

There were also difficulties associated with the development of the garden at times been taken out of the school's hands due to the huge input and interest of other parties. However, with the official 'hand-over' of the garden, ongoing management linked to teaching and learning is now strengthened.

2008 will see the construction of the school garden finished, including the addition of an outdoor classroom and propagation facilities. Food practicals will continue to use fresh produce from the garden and begin to exert more input into what should be grown and when. Propagation of native plant species will begin with a view to regenerating the local environment.

Watching the children watch themselves of TV has been a definite highlight of the project!

Curriculum Links

It is envisaged that the garden will make a significant contribution towards delivering a K - 12 curriculum including supporting a Horticulture VET course for older children.

Health: Knowledge and Understandings; Self-Management Skills
Science: Acting Responsibly; Life and Living; Natural and Processed Materials
Society and Environment: Investigation, Communication and Participation; Active Citizenship

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Swan Valley Anglican Community School
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