Case Study : Lavington East Primary School
MULCH ADO ABOUT RECYCLING
Amanda Laycock, the garden teacher at Lavington East Primary School, the latest recipients of a truckload of compost made from the household organics service in Albury-Wodonga, talks to Halve Waste about how “a lot of people doing a little bit of work” can lead to big outcomes in sustainability.
What program/initiative have you put in place to encourage sustainability/reduce waste?
The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program. This has been run in conjunction with lessons on reduce, re-use, recycle and on plants.
When did the program commence?
It began at the start of 2014 so it has been running for two years.
Have you seen any improvements/changes/things of note since the start of the program?
We have had an increase in awareness across the school about healthy food, particularly vegetables and fruits. There has been a subtle shift in the culture of the school. Families growing vegetables at home has become more common and home vegetable gardens are a common topic of discussion at pick up time. Students, teachers and parents discuss what is growing well, what worked well last season and they share seedlings. We are now recycling all the school’s garden waste and some food scraps through mulching, composting and worm farming.
How difficult was it to put the program in place and how much work is it to sustain it?
The timing was right in 2014 to invest in the healthy lifestyle of the students and families in the school. We wanted to address critical aspects of the NSW curriculum in Health that are best addressed through practical hands-on lessons. The Stephanie Alexander Program support students in choosing healthy foods that are grown themselves. We had an increase in the number of students who spoke English as their second language. A program such as the SAKG program can be used to teach mathematics and English.
We decided to train two staff members in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program. We did our training at the established kitchen and garden at Wodonga West Public School program.
The program has required the ongoing commitment and encouragement of the staff, the principal and the parent body. Our school community has been very supportive. The school has a staff garden committee to share the sustaining, developing and managing of the garden. The program has been easy to sustain because a lot of people put in a little bit of work. We have held a community working bee and had wonderful support. We also have a handful of expert parents who help with major garden constructions such as sheds and fences. We couldn’t do it without them.
Who is involved and helps run the program?
The kitchen garden coordinator is assistant principal Carly Burns. The garden teacher is Amanda Laycock. Amanda runs garden classes for students in Years 3 and 4 one day a week. Classes are also run for students who benefit from the small group environment.
What is the student involvement like?
Students love the garden classes on Fridays. We build soil, germinate seeds and propagate plants. We grow and harvest vegetables. We take vegetables and vegetable plants home every week. We learn about water in the soil, fertiliser, seed harvesting and the life cycle of plants.
We have student Oakley Churches who is the student manager of the garden. His role is to support the garden teacher in the garden, preparing lessons, maintaining the garden and supporting small groups of students in their learning.
“I love helping out other kids in the garden. We grow vegetables and eating them. We eat beetroot, celery, lettuce and snow-peas. We have a lot of herbs too. We have a chocolate mint. It tastes like an ice-cream. The kids take the plants home, like tomatoes. They grow them at home. I like working with my friends. We like using the wheelbarrows and shovels.”
How has the compost that was recently provided assisted your program?
We have a lot of garden. The soil is hard clay. The compost provided to our garden has helped build not only our vegetable garden but our other school gardens. Many were doing poorly and needed the nutrition, water retention and soil improving qualities the compost provides.
What other waste/sustainability programs/initiatives would you like to implement and what are the barriers (if any)
We want to introduce recycling bins into each classroom and office. Our cleaners are supportive of this and we already have recycling collected from the school. We need 25 room sized bins so the students and teachers can always put their paper etc in the recycling. Each class room has a good sized rubbish bin and I’d like if we could use them as the recycling bin and then have a smaller bin next to them as a rubbish bin for those things that can’t be recycled.