Jade Kavanagh and Amy Dowling from Growing Greenthumbs in Melbourne shared the story of how they helped the parents and children at Bonbeach Primary School transform the school’s garden from an uninspiring area into a living, changing, sustainable playground and working garden…

A word from the team:

The gardens at Bonbeach Primary School in 2013 offered not a lot of stimulation for the students, staff and community. Dusty vegetable beds were half filled and concrete consumed most of the front area.

A vision of creating an edible garden and sustainable education was the initiative of 2 parents who slowly transformed the front of the school over 4 years. There was no funding for any of the work. Businesses were approached to help get the vision off the ground by suppling seeds, compost, worm farms and tools.

Many hours were put into the grounds to provide areas for children to play in, be inspired and connect with nature; a small grant was achieved to build a chicken coop which is now a highlight for students and the wider community. It was voluntarily built by a school family from foraged and recycled materials.

The garden is forever changing with new nature play structures being added when needed. Students lead the way in shaping their garden. When a mud pie was initially found, they were then provided with a bakery to create as many mud pies as they wanted, that then followed with a recycled timber mud kitchen that was purchased with fundraised funds.

Students are guided at lunchtimes by the 2 mums who created the garden. They offer students new experiences and spend time nurturing their needs in nature. Bug hotels are forever appearing, fairy gardens come and go, logs are moved and shifted to create spaces, chess is played in the orchard, compost is collect from classrooms, teepees are built, frog bogs are nurtured and flower gardens are grown to stimulate all senses.

Fundraising continues to help grow the garden in the way of pumpkin drives and selling ‘worm wee’ at the schools farmers market. The accredited farmers market, run by volunteers, is an extension of the schools sustainable practices offering food education to the community.

The garden will continue to grow and change as the years go on and the students will shape it by just playing in it.

— Jade Kavanagh & Amy Dowling

An visual diary is kept on Instagram @BPSgreenthumbs



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