From little things big things grow

Receiving an IEU/TMB Environment Grant has proved the catalyst to kick start major changes at St Peter’s Anglican College Junior School in Broulee.

The south coast school’s plan was initially modest, with a wish to incorporate their existing programs into a more holistic cycle and encourage community participation from local preschools and the retirement village.

But Year 6 Teacher Trina McCallum said as soon as they started outlining plans for their eco-program, it became evident they could go a lot further.

“It’s been incredible – people have been saying ‘you don’t need to spend the grant on that’ and giving us donations or bringing things from home instead,” Trina said.

“I think the desire to do all these things was there but in the busy day to day we didn’t get around to it until the grant came along.”

The junior school already had a veggie garden, a kitchen garden cooking program and recycling, but now the ‘Taj Mahal’ of chicken coops has been introduced to the school, thanks mainly to parent contributions.

The grant money can now be spent on mulch, garden beds, chicken feed and other needs.

Big picture, the project will incorporate a pond to create wetlands and a covered learning area which will also allow visitors from the retirement village to park and sit in a safe area when they come to see the gardens and chickens. An outdoor pizza oven is also on the drawing board.

“We had small expectations six months ago, but these have been growing expedientially,” Year 5 Teacher Kylie James said.

The eco-program has captured the imagination of all eight staff at the junior school and most of the students, many in the parent body and the wider community.

In order to develop leadership skills, each year group at the school is responsible for maintaining an aspect of the garden and passing on their knowledge to the year below them.

The students are responsible for researching how to look after the chooks, and other STEM projects have merged, such as developing a ‘beeswax wrap’ to sell.

The senior school’s mathematics department is also getting involved, looking at a market garden idea to develop life skills.

“The children have embraced this, it’s a student centred program. They can go through their school career learning about all aspects of a sustainable lifestyle,” Trina said.

Each year the Union partners with Teachers Mutual Bank to make Environment Grants possible.