TMB signs on for another year

Teachers Mutual Bank and IEU recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) committing the bank to another year supporting the IEU, including the annual IEU Environment Grants. Every year schools are selected for a $3000 grant for environmental projects they are running.

This year’s winners were: Phillipa Maher for Valla Community Preschool, Valla Beach, Cultivating a sustainable community; Claire Burrows for St Mary’s Primary School, Moruya, Operation chicken coop; Michael Peck and Phil Baldock for St Clare’s College, Waverley, The green thumb project; Brett Bennett for Bishop Druitt College, Coffs Harbour, Frog habitat bush regeneration; Amber Erasmus for Green Point Christian College, Green Point, Put the green in Green Point; Jenny Zerial and Chris Gawidziel for St Pius’ Catholic Primary School, Enmore, St Pius’ market garden and Lynette Funnell for Lismore Preschool Inc, Getting back on track.

Green thumbs

St Clare’s plan to use the money to further develop the Green Thumbs Project, a project that uses gardening to assist students with disabilities.

Currently, there are six students enrolled in the program, and they are growing a range of vegetables, including tomatoes, radishes, parsley and capsicums. With the money from the grant, the plan is to establish a three tiered vertical garden system to increase the output of the gardens. In addition, the school is going to establish a worm farm, in order to develop their own fertilizer.

One of the challenges that this will overcome is the lack of space at the school. There are more than 500 students, but Administration Coordinator Michael Peck and Phillip Baldock, the Learning Support Teacher in charge of Green Thumbs, have found a way to use vertical walls. Michael, who has been at the school for almost two years, said, "We really wanted to show other people what can be done in a limited space.”

Quality, not quantity

For a small inner Sydney school, St Pius certainly has big plans for environmental action and sustainability. In addition to working on the local metro supermarket gardens, students at St Pius also manage their own market garden, growing a range of fresh produce to use in the canteen and also at home.

St Pius won their grant under the guidance of School Support Officer Jenny Zerial and Year 4 Teacher Chris Gawidziel. Chris, who has been at the school for two years and heads up the market garden program, said, “We want to use the money from the IEU to develop what we have already in place and extend it even further.”

This will include more garden beds, more pots and seedling trays and perhaps even greenhouses in the future – certainly a lot for the 180 students at the school.