A weedy patch of hard clay soil at Old Guildford Public School has been turned into a flourishing garden, a process that has and helped to increase students’ engagement in their schooling.
Over the past two years the school has created the kitchen garden, which grows a range of seasonal fruits and vegetables, as part of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program.
The school received grants from the Federal and NSW governments,
as well as donations from a corporate sponsor. These have been used for a kitchen renovation, to build an alfresco dining area, and for materials required for the garden. The school used some money from the Low Socio-economic Status School Communities National Partnership to cover critical costs associated with kitchen and garden staff. A number of volunteers provided work and equipment such as excavators for free.
During the project students have enthusiastically participated in activities associated with the kitchen garden and in non-related activities. Many are now keen to attend
school on the weekends to work in the garden and to share their learning with their parents at home in the kitchen. They have developed skills across the curriculum in the context of the program and have developed important skills of cooperation and collaboration.
The confidence students have developed as a result of participating in the program was evident at the official opening of the kitchen garden on May 9. They approached guests independently and enthusiastically to teach them about the produce in the garden as well as the work that had gone into the whole project.
This project is a testament to what can be achieved with a proper level of resourcing. The benefits the students are gaining are not only lifelong, but inter-generational. It would be an enormous shame if the program were to fall down after only just getting off the ground. It would be unacceptable for National Partnerships schools to lose funding in the transition to the Gonski model. It is imperative that the NSW Government makes clear to schools what Gonski will mean for them in 2014 and beyond. And the Federal Coalition must commit to honouring the agreement. Schools like Old Guildford need to be able to plan for their students now.