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Living Lightly column

Wodonga Middle Years College sustainable gardening tour

By Helena Foster, School Community Gardener, Wodonga Middle Years College Felltimber Campus

Back in the 70’s I read a memorable article in Grass Roots magazine by the late Neil Douglas, Australian artist, environmentalist and advocate for sustainable living, where he stressed the need for schools to run gardening as part of every child’s education. Prophetically, he warned of the potential social and health issues resulting from our modern society’s enchantment with manufactured foods and disconnection from the land.

It took another 30 or so years for us to catch on.  In 2001 another visionary, Stephanie Alexander, collaborated with the Victorian government to introduce gardening into primary schools.  Her pilot kitchen garden program at Collingwood College spread a wave of healthy enthusiasm throughout the education system. As a result, most primary schools today have a veggie patch and some form of program where kids learn to grow, harvest, prepare and share freshly grown food.

Despite the demonstrated benefits of school gardening, interest drops off almost completely at secondary level. This makes us, at Wodonga Middle Years College Felltimber Campus, somewhat unique.

Here, we involve students in a wide range of gardening activities across the entire school grounds.  We work together to create a stimulating outdoor environment which sustains students, staff and local fauna with beauty, diversity and abundance. In the process, students gain skills, understanding and experience of the benefits of working with nature, nurturing the soil, plants, bugs, birds, and of being nurtured in return –  all to equip them to make better choices for themselves, their families and their communities   down the track.

As partners in this year’s Albury Wodonga Sustainable Living Festival, we will be opening our gardens to the public to talk about our take on sustainable gardening methods: building fertile soils, fruit fly control, composting, wicking beds, seed saving, propagating from seed and cuttings, recycling, water conservation, habitats for pollinators and much more.

If it’s your kind of thing, please join us as our free event – Sustainable Gardening on a Shoestring. Details as follows:

Venue: School Community Garden, Wodonga Middle Years Felltimber Campus, Emerald Ave, Wodonga

Date: Tuesday 20/11/2018

Time: 12.30–2.00pm

RSVP: Bookings essential by Friday 16 November  via email to: hfoster@wmyc.vic.edu.au

To see the full Sustainable Living Festival program visit: alburywodonga.gov.au/slf