|Year/ Round||2010 Round 1|
|Project Name||Indigenous Garden|
|School Name||Northside Montessori School|
|Number of student / volunteer hours (est.)||80|
‘It takes a village to raise a garden’
Through this grant, students at Northside Montessori School have transformed a weedy disused area of land into an interactive and productive Indigenous Garden. They have really taken ownership of this project with enthusiasm. The students researched, selected and planted the native garden after separating the garden into three distinct spaces – bush tucker area, bush medicinal area and bush craft area. Introduced weed species were removed from a 28 square metre area and were replaced by over 40 indigenous plants. The students through their research and interaction with the space now feel a strong connection to this area- they realise how they can have a positive impact on the environment.
The students researched into traditional uses of native plants, giving a practical and hands-on extension to their botany and history studies. They tested the pH level of the soil and in groups researched the particular needs of each plant. After removing the weeds, adding native top soil and organic material the pH level was adjusted so it was more suitable for native plants. These steps were valuable activities in the science curriculum particularly in respect to the areas of needs of plants, ecosystems and land use. Students then researched and used the computer to create individual plaques which contained information on classification, plant uses, history and distribution. Since the garden has been planted the children are taking turns watering, weeding and tending the garden. As the plants grow they hope to harvest some of the plants and use them in cooking and to make bush craft.
With help from Aboriginal artist Walangari, traditional Aboriginal symbols were studied and garden mural and a sculpture were created. He spoke with the children about traditional Aboriginal people, land use and the spiritual connection with the land. Walangari also turned the garden into a beautiful 3D dot painting by placing stones in patterns around the plants explaining to the children that like the circular rings of stone that connected the plants, they too were connected to nature.
The whole ‘village’ has been involved with the Indigenous Garden project including parent volunteers, together with some of our students who helped to clear the area of weeds and prepare the soil for planting. A parent volunteer who is a landscape gardener helped considerably, a local primary school, the Bush School donated raw materials for the garden sculpture and a local high school Forestville Montessori High School allowed students to visit and watch their bush regeneration project in action. Students were able to discuss local traditional Indigenous land use and the importance of protecting native plants. A local nursery Harvest Seeds and Native Plants in Forestville helped source the plants and provided an excellent resource for information about plant needs and traditional plant uses. Several parents donated books on Indigenous Studies, gardening and Aboriginal art.
“This experience has been so empowering and positive for the children. It would not have been possible without the generosity of Westpac. Through Junior Landcare and Westpac, the children were able to see a project go from a sketch to a reality. This not only increased their appreciation of the environment and of Australian Indigenous culture, but it also helped to create a community spirit where everyone contributed toward a shared goal”. Northside Montessori School representative.
To this!!! Walangari an Aboriginal artist helping to create a traditional mural and sculpture with students.