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Archive for May, 2008

This important event will be held on Saturday 29th June from 9am to 4pm at Westfalen Community Garden in Brisbane. The day will include community garden tours, hands-on workshops and presentations on the how to, why and what of community gardens, local food, social enterprises and other topics. This is a great chance to share knowledge and skills, catch up and make new contacts and friends. Registration details and program are available by contacting Gav at Growing Communities.

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A recent visit to Cringila Public School was an eye opener to the amazing potential of learnscapes for children to learn not just about, for and in the environment, but also to gain an understanding of nutrition, develop healthy social skills and gain confidence and initiative. Teacher and Permaculture designer Aaron Sorenson holds regular sessions in the garden with students and his approach is participatory and hands-on. Students decide which tasks they would like to work on and collaborate with each other to achieve the desired outcome.

Enthusiasm is high and students often attend the garden during breaks as well as in allocated lesson times. Part of this enthusiasm may be due to Aaron’s respect for the children who he refers to as ‘garden ambassadors’. This role is embraced with pride and taken very seriously, with older students mentoring younger ones and taking on greater responsibility as their skills increase. Some children who previously exhibited pronounced behaviour problems have flourished in this learning environment, becoming easier to communicate with and manage. Successful garden learnscapes have been set up in five local schools with more planned for the future.

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Year four students from Gordon West Public School have been working with Living Schools over the last few months to learn about stormwater. In partnership with Ku-ring-gai Council, Dunoon Bushcare group and the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority, students participated in the development of a small rain garden, or bio-filtration device, in a local reserve. The garden is designed to filter nutrients and other pollutants from stormwater, reducing weeds, water pollution and soil contamination problems downstream. The focus was to give students an understanding of their impact on waterways and to help them develop a sense of responsibility and ownership for their local environment. Students enjoyed planting out the garden and later created posters to share their knowledge with other students.

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In April, Living Schools and Peaceboat again teamed up to provide a fun, hands-on introduction to sustainable living for Peaceboat voyagers. Working with translators, skills and knowledge are learned in a practical, participatory way. Through direct experience participants learn to set up a worm-farm, sow seed, mulch a home garden, care for a compost system and restore habitat for native fauna. Sessions focus on providing an understanding of the interconnectedness of all living things and the ripple effect of our actions on this fragile yet resilient web of life. Participants touch, taste and smell the soil, herbs and produce from the garden, exploring their own connectedness and sense of place within nature.

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A recent visit to the Northey Street City Farm has left us inspired! Northey Street is a Permaculturally designed learnscape and functioning food production space in Windsor, an inner city suburb of Brisbane. It is alive with people: children gambling about in the carefully designed play spaces, mums and dads sipping organic coffee in the rustic café, weekend shoppers buying local produce at the busy farmers markets that are held there every Sunday.

We explored the wonderfully diverse food forest and garden areas, the edible plant nursery and native regeneration areas, admiring sculpture and other works of art tucked into odd little nooks for the visitor to discover. Northey Street has a well developed formal and informal education program including regular tours, intensive on the job training programs for the unemployed, accredited and non-accredited permaculture courses and short workshops. For more information visit their website at www.northeystreetcityfarm.org.au.

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