WELCOME

Welcome to School Harvest and thank you for visiting our  site.

We set it up  to record and share the unfolding story of our slightly “different”  school gardening  project;  to encourage other school gardeners,  and   also to  brag a little.

 Most of all, we set it up  to stimulate ongoing conversation between all who are passionate  about gardening in general, and school gardening specifically. We set it up to swap ideas about what works and what doesn’t;  and to support one another in the  daunting task of reconnecting  a  generation of young kids,  so brilliant and so capable of navigating  most  complex electronic realities, back to grass roots.  Back to  where food grows in dirt, compost fragrantly matures , creepy crawly pests lurk in cabbage and lettuces   and  strawberries  look,  smell and  taste like bits of  heaven.

We invite you to share your thoughts and experience on the subject and look forward to your contributions to School Harvest . Don’t be shy,  we’re all together in this and every little bit  counts –  after all we’re investing  in the  adults of tomorrow.

 March 2012

OUR HUMBLE  BEGINNINGS

We started very simply:   a bare fenced off paddock with a tap, a handful of well used garden  tools and  a healthy dose of determination. Objective: to turn our rather desolate looking plot into a  vibrant, abundant and fertile veggie garden.

We made a start by digging up the first bit of soil. Luckily it has rained a few days prior, and the ground was  pretty workable. Year 7 students helped during the week and our Bhutanese friends  Chakra, Purna and Sukmaya on weekends. The work was hard and progress slow but two little miracles gave us wings:

Our supporters from Howlong Nurseries  donated some seedlings which we promptly planted out in the  first new  beds.  It rained again,  the seedlings  thrived and suddenly our  plot started looking fresh and  perky;

and

Annie and Phillip Randell, dear  friends of my family  (and parents of our former  teacher Tim Randell),  lent us a rotary hoe TO USE AS LONG AS WE NEED IT!!  No more back -breaking digging with a spade or mattock !! Chakra became a bit unstoppable with it  for a while.

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Posted in starting a school garden

GUESS WHO VISITED OUR GARDEN?!

Nearly 2 years ago, when our garden was but a bare paddock, I said to one of the first groups to work with me : ” It does’t look like much now, but let’s make it so good Costa from Gardening Australia will  want to visit us”

Well.. it happened sooner than I thought!

Costa Giorgiades, the organic gardening guru, iconic  champion of education for sustainability, host of ABC’s  Gardening Australia,and my personal hero graced us with his presence, making it the most exciting  day in all my gardening days!! Do I sound like a fan? I hope so..

In all fairness we were just  incredibly lucky  to be chosen as one of the local sustainability projects for Costa to visit in preparation for the grand opening (and grand it truly was)  of the  Regional Centre of Expertise- Murray Darling, at which he was a very special guest speaker.

He was scheduled to spend only half hour  in our garden , but ended up giving us nearly an hour, because , in his words, “this is important, I’m talking to the kids and they are the future” .

no argument from me nor the students, we  were all over the moon..

What an honour,  to be given an opportunity to showcase our project not only to Costa, but also to  other visitors  touring with him, many distinguished   for their active and  professional  involvement in various aspects  of sustainable development in our area.

click  here  to read the media release prior to the official opening of our own RCE-MD

click here to find out more about  global Regional Centres for Expertise.

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Posted in education for sustainability, RCE-MD, school garden, sustainability

SCHOOL HARVEST GOES TO MARKET

Last Saturday (31st of August) we took our wares to our local Hume Murray Farmers Market

This was the culmination of about 10 weeks of seriously hard work. We   have been collecting and cleaning recycled jars and bottles, making all sorts of  preserves, packaging seed harvested in Autumn, potting up plants and bottling liquid worm fertiliser. We wanted our produce to look  attractive so we designed nice labels and dressed each jar with a little blue and white  chequered  doily – that’s a lot of  cutting with pinking shears!

On the day  we wanted to get the recycling message across,  especially to young children, We  did that by running  an interactive  workshop where kids (of all ages!) made a biodegradable newspaper pot, planted a seedling in it  and took it home to plant out in their garden. We were very lucky to have a parent with background in horticulture who was able to join us for the entire morning  and engage the passing by customers in the workshop activities.

We had an amazing, high energy day and received  much  heart-worming and  encouraging feedback from our customers. Our students went home with a great sense of achievement and also of being appreciated by  their  community !

Many thanks to all our supporters – you give us wings!

Special thanks to Nick Messinga from Howlong Nuseries , who donated the seedlings for our workshop.

to all WMYC staff and  students- spot some familiar faces in our  snap shot gallery

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OUR FROG POND 8 MONTHS LATER

the garden pond proved to be a wonderful success, both with local fauna  and our students. Families of grass parrots, plovers, crimson rosellas, willy wagtails, blue wrens, gallahs, magpies and ibises have settled in the neighbourhood because they are assured of constant water supply. Also,we have already raised several generations of frogs.

very often small groups of students are seen sitting on the edge of the pond quietly chatting and enjoying the atmosphere

the photo gallery shows some of our favourite plants growing in the pond

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COMING SOON

Science Discovery recycling  project…

To weed or not to weed…

What happens to our produce…

Recipes …

About our Bhutanese volunteers…

Insect hotels…

Worm farming …

Art in the garden…

                                      PLEASE VISIT US AGAIN SOON

 

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NEED A SHADE HOUSE? BUILD A SHADE HOUSE

As we aim to propagate  many plants ourselves, a shade house is  sensible addition to our garden. We happened to have a whole lot of kiln dried timber ( salvaged from a skip during school renovations a couple of years ago) and  also some  2 -4 m  lengths which served as school garden benches in their previous life. Our design , simple as it is, was determined by the size of these  timbers and the aspect of our site. We positioned the shed,with the long open side facing east to catch the morning sun, on a patch which we could  not  possibly utilize for growing stuff as  it’s backing onto a stand of gum trees on the other side of the fence. These gum trees  send their roots far into our garden gobbling up nutrients and water but  on the other hand  they shelter the garden from the murderous western sun and prevailing south westerly winds, so my feelings towards them are, to put it politely, a bit mixed.

Back to the shade house: we approached  Wodonga  Men’s Shed  and were very lucky to get  the co-ordinator, Mr Ken Farrer, to assist us with the project. The frame was prefabricated  in the Men’s Shed   workshop and sections delivered to the garden.  A group of  keen  and   capable students, under Ken’s brilliant  instructions, put the whole lot up in two mornings. We  painted it , furnished it with  recycled benches and shelves, and  stapled recycled shade cloth to the roof and the southern side. Then we  moved in the worm farms and a whole lot of  pots and trays, and presto!   the whole thing looks like its always been there.

Many thanks to  Mr. Farrer and Wodonga Men’s Shed for their  support and assistance!

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SUMMER 2012/13

It’s been long and it’s been dry, with no rain to speak of in our part of the world.

We staggered our planting in hope of  avoiding  excessive produce during  the long holiday period. The first lot of tomatoes, beans, zucchinis, cucumbers, peppers,  chilies, various gourds and pumpkins went in mid November and another lot of the same minus the pumpkins , in late December.  Well, it kind of worked, but not by our design.  The temperatures have been so unusual this summer,  we didn’t have much produce  in January at all;  and all plants, earlier and later, became productive  all at the same time.  We ended up with   a glut in February, and now, by mid March it is all just about over – a  very short season for the amount of work involved.  I  must admit, the longer I garden, the more I appreciate the immensity of the job  commercial vegetable growers perform in order to feed the  nations.

To conserve water  over the long summer we mulched heavily  and watered plants with a hand held hose. I think it is the most economic way     as it allows  to deliver a  direct stream of water exactly where its needed, i.e. at the base of each plant;  as opposed to spraying large areas of the ground only to loose most of it to evaporation.   It also gives me time  to  inspect the garden more closely for  bugs, health issues,weeds  etc. and just  to soak up  the wonder of it all.

the following photo gallery  shows some of edible plants and companions we grew this Summer

Posted in summer produce

THE FROG POND- how it started

Every garden needs a frog pond…

Apart from creating an interesting focal point,  a well established pond will support a diverse  range of   critters.  Birds, frogs , lizards and insects will all be encouraged to make their home close to the source of water and their activities are  pretty vital to the overall health of the garden.

Creating our pond was very much  a collaborative effort.  Students  from year 7 and 8  fund raised, local  businesses  and the school community supported the project by donating funds and some materials.  Groups of students from both  campuses   contributed to preparing  and landscaping the site.

The following photo gallery shows    different stages of the project.

Read more ›

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Posted in create a frog pond, create a habitat, starting a school garden, summer produce, Uncategorized
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