“Rachel is incredibly dedicated and positive about her work. She included students in our school in a garden project that not only engaged that class, but has become a lively hub and aesthetic pleasure for all. The space used to be an open dirt patch between grey portable rooms - now it is a vibrant retreat. Wonderful work!"
Shelley T, Pascoe Vale Girls College
Design and care for low-maintenance habitat gardens within school settings
We encourage schools to see the value which gardens bring to education, conservation and to the well being of students and staff. Using Permaculture design we help to shift the grounds to low-maintenance and environmentally safe practices. Mulched prunings, cardboard and paper can be used to suppress weeds, to slow evaporation and to improve soil. Suitable plant selection reduces need for excessive pruning, improves school grounds and provides year round interest, colour and wildlife habitat.
Engaging students in the research, design, and construction of site specific project gardens allows them to gain personal, interpersonal, and practical skills (including numeracy and literacy) encouraging student pride and ownership of their environment. These projects also present viable future employment pathways, for example design, landscaping, construction, horticulture, beekeeping and as arborists.
Projects are specific to each school, but the general stages are:
The ‘IDEAS’ stage
General recommendations can be made at this stage, for broad achievable improvements to the grounds and garden maintenance. This will include:
- Initial meeting to understand your school’s specific needs, skills, and goals for the development of gardens.
- 120 min site visit and analysis to assess existing plantings, soil condition, slope, and microclimates.
- Identify existing recycling systems (paper, cardboard, food scraps, green waste). Recommendations on how to cycle these resources back into the system as compost/mulch.
- Understand existing maintenance/ground works; their frequency and tasks undertaken.
- Identify areas for potential project gardens.
- Discuss school timeframes, available budget, existing resources and possible external funding sources.
- A follow up email with recommendations discussed.
SCHOOL CONSULTATION + CONCEPT DESIGN PLAN
Development of initial 'ideas' Consultation into a working plan
*Please provide a scaled site plan of school grounds for this consultation
Extending on the above consultation this concept plan marks existing and potential future elements of the school site, and their functional interactions. Areas for immediate improvement and possible sites for student project gardens are identified. This plan breaks the site into achievable sections and includes:
- Initial meeting and consultation as above.
- Marking on the site plan water, high traffic areas/site usage, existing vegetation, prevailing winds and micro climates.
- The suggested locations of feature gardens, future student projects, recycling/ compost/ mulch depots, and potential additional locations for water tanks, paths, seating and service areas. Locations are chosen for maximum interactive benefits.
- Recommendations of materials and suitable plant species for site.
- 2d Concept plan is presented with photographic examples of recommendations.
Consultation + Concept Plan Fee will depend on the scope of works/area:
Individual Garden Plan $500 (includes accurate costings for project)
Overall School Concept Design starting at $1500 (this is a broad plan which maps out future directions and interactions of the site).
STUDENT PROJECT GARDENS
We encourage the gardens to be an active resource for schools and to used as ‘outdoor classrooms’
In developing project gardens, we:
- Invite and encourage the input and inclusion of staff and students, their needs and interests.
- Include departments which might contribute to, or use, the gardens; metalwork, woodwork (carvings sculpture, seating) art, food technology, environmental education, sciences (the development of plant labels for scientific identification and the monitoring of wildlife)
- Research with students into the local (endemic) plants as well as identifying other plant species (suitable and unsuitable) to create habitat for biodiversity and year-round shelter and fodder for bees, birds and insects.
- Work with the abilities of students to design, construct and plant out their project garden.
- Can facilitate workshops and the creation of a mural with students, both as an artistic project and as an enduring educational aid.
- Can assist in applying for external funding (ie Environmental – protection and promotion of habitat and biodiversity, Council -Waste minimisation, Artistic – Creative communities) as well as potential corporate sponsorship.
Fee will depend on the scope and duration of the project, please contact to discuss.
SCHOOL GARDEN MAINTENANCE + CARE
We provide maintenance support to ensure the health of gardens, plantings and recycling/compost systems.
We recommend that schools invest in a horticulturalist to work (weekly or fortnightly) alongside existing grounds maintenance staff to care for plants and gardens. This ensures their long term success. Savings can be made through the reduction of waste and the cycling of materials through the system. A regular horticulturalist provides a point of contact and support for all internal and external garden projects (ie Fruit Trees in Schools, kitchen gardens, compost areas) removing the pressure on staff, and maintenance, who may not have the time to manage them.
Increased student participation, the enjoyment and pride in the environment from both staff and students will balance the funds invested in this care.