Banner 3

‘Nurture fresh thinking for a healthy world’

SHS Garden Journal Blog

Early Years Learning - In the Preschool Garden

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Over the past eight months Seed Harvest Spoon have been building knowledge alongside the children and educators at the 26 Sydney wide Only About Children campuses. 

The children are learning how they can contribute to caring for our earth by waste sorting to reduce what goes to landfill, recycling food scraps to create healthy soil, turning off taps and mindful water play to conserve water.

Over the last two months the children have been learning about where their food comes by planting and growing a range of seasonal vegetables in their garden. Engagement with soil, plants and the outdoors contributes to the overall health and wellbeing of every child.

Outcome 1: Children have a strong sense of identity.

Sharing the experience of growing food with peers and educators encourages a sense of belonging and responsibility. Planting a seed is a careful cognitive process, especially when understanding how deep to plant a carrot seed compared to a bean seed. Dexterity skills are developed when carefully picking up the tiny carrot seed and sowing it in the soil. At the end of the lesson all 30 seed pots are lined up the children look for their name label with pride and enthusiasm. 

Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world.

Using a magnifying glass children explore up close a diversity of creatures that live in the soil under their feet. They are excited to discover different creatures, but worms are always a favourite! No matter how many worms children find each new discovery is celebrated with more joy than the last. Adding compost or nutrient rich vermicast to the soil keeps our newly planted seedlings healthy. Especially when food scraps from our kitchen have helped to create the natural fertiliser. Compost and vermicast help our veggies grow strong and provide our body with nutrients and minerals when we eat them freshly picked.

Outcome 3: Children have a strong sense of wellbeing.

Our plants thrive and grow by absorbing sunshine, so do we. Time spent outdoors is beneficial to our emotional and physical wellbeing. Involvement in gardening generates a sense of purpose, where soil under our fingernails is a healthy sign of connection to nature! Handling a delicate seed or seedling provides us with a tactile connection to life. Harvesting the lettuce, carrots, spinach and bok choy we grow in our preschool garden is a tasty nutrient rich bowl of goodness for our growing body.

Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners.

Children love to learn, as Seed Harvest Spoon become a familiar face at the many campuses we visit, the children confidently and enthusiastically greet us by asking “What are we learning today?” When we ask the children what we spoke about last time we visited, they eagerly respond with soil, worms, water, rubbish, recycling, turning off taps and more. When planting a seedling children are learning about the process and technique. They engage in learning by digging a hole in the soil with a trowel, carefully placing the seedling in the hole without disturbing the roots, covering the roots with soil for protection, giving a little water and placing some mulch around the soil to conserve water. Vocabulary expands by using correct terminology in the garden. Early skills in science develop as we observe the germination of a carrot seed. Experimentation and inquiry evolve though questioning - What happens if I plant my seed too deep? What if I forget to water my seed?

Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators.

In the garden we learn and create context by sharing stories, children talk eagerly about their home garden. Child’s voice: “My Dad grows chillies in our garden, he loves them, but I don’t, they're too hot for me!”  Using our imagination, body movement and storyboards helps us understand how a seed comes to life. We read a book with engaging images and rhyming words to finish off the lesson, its a fun way to reflect on what we have learnt. Labels help us to identify our individual seed pot and what we have planted, some of us are writing our own name and words, while others are great at spelling their name helping the teacher to write it for them.  We read the seed packet and discover it may take 14 days of watering and waiting for our seed to germinate. Teachers use their iPad as a tool for taking photos and documenting learning that we can use to recount our experience later. 

Children's seed pots lined up around garden bed ready to take home & below a carrot seed planted by a preschooler that has germinated.

Author: Michelle Carrick 
Seed Harvest Spoon Co-Founder & Program Director 
© 2016:Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation Ltd.

Source: 

Commonwealth of Australia Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations (DEEWR) (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: Early years learning framework for Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations.







Funding News

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

As a Not-for-Profit organisation Seed Harvest Spoon is dedicated to providing our clients a professional, high quality face-to-face education service. We believe in the power of grassroots education in supporting communities to thrive and work together for enhanced health and wellbeing. We are very grateful for the support given to us by our sponsors and funding partners. This recognition enables us to continue the valued work we do within communities. We delight in being able to observe the positive difference working alongside children and their family members make to feeling a sense of belonging and value as citizens in caring for earth and people health. 

Recently we have received the following funding to improve the service and projects we deliver to communities:

Lantern Club, Roselands - upgrade to Riverwood Public School garden - education in food security, healthy eating, food literacy and cooking.

City of Canada Bay - website upgrade (mobile responsive & Eco Store) - you can now have access to our website across all mobile devices and purchase some of our favourite resources through our Eco Store - take a look here.

Canada Bay Club - website upgrade (members area) - due to go live January 2017, further details will be announced later this year - watch this space. 

City of Canada Bay - Research & development of our Community Food Program - soon to be released.

Visit Our Partners page here to view all of our Funding Partners and Collaborators.

For regular up to date information on our projects, please follow us on Facebook.

 

 

My Permaculture Journey: change of life, change of perspective

Monday, July 11, 2016



The internet is full of people who know incredible amounts about their chosen subject matter. They can dissect every problem and have answers for any questions that come their way. Well here I am writing on a Permaculture blog and feel the need to let you know that I most probably know less than anyone reading this!

It can be a daunting prospect for anyone who dares to take on a new skill or hobby. It has been that way with my journey thus far. Over the next few months (and hopefully years) you will be able to see my progress as I delve into the world of Permaculture.

I decided to begin this journey when a few fundamental events changed my life and my perspective on the world. The first event was when I moved from a unit to a house. Finally, I could really get stuck into growing fruit and vegetables for myself and my family, without dragging the hose up the communal stairs or filling endless jugs of water to support my plants on the small balcony of my unit. 

The second push came when my daughter, Violet, started to explore the garden and showed the inquisitiveness that becomes infectious to all those around her. In return, I wanted to show her the amazing processes involved in growing your own food and developing your own environment.

The third event came with the passing of a close family member. This sad event was the final catalyst and made me re-evaluate my place on the earth and how I can best use the time I have.

With these three events came the impetus to learn Permaculture, but the greatest question was where to start. I had a few basic tools in the shed, some books on small space organics and some general knowledge gained from kicking about the garden with my parents when I was growing up - but my knowledge was limited. So I decided to enrol in a Permaculture course through Tafe and to throw myself into the deep end and start volunteering with Seed Harvest Spoon.

Just six months into my journey I can say, hand-on-heart, that it has been one of the best decisions I have made. It has been a steep but rewarding learning curve, and one that gives back in spades when effort is applied. 

One of the first things I tackled was WASTE! Crickey, a modern consumer produces a lot of waste! The buying and disposing of plastics and other materials seems to be unstoppable, but I found that with a small effort and some consideration of my purchasing decisions, I have been able to greatly reduce the waste that my household produces. From simple decisions such as being organised enough to take the canvas bags to the supermarket Tim Minchin Song to refusing to buy packaged fruit and veggies, the household waste bin has been getting easier to drag to the curb every week as its contents diminish. My goal is to be more like the Zero Waste Girl but every little bit helps. There is never a bad time to get started on reducing your waste. 

To read more about the link between Permaculture and waste and how to get children involved in reducing waste check out our earlier article here

Author: Andrew Messer
Seed Harvest Spoon Education Facilitator & Photographer
Copyright 2016: Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation Ltd.

World Environment Day: Go Wild!

Sunday, June 05, 2016

World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated widely, in over 100 countries, on 5 June each year. 

WED is a global platform for raising awareness and for taking action towards positive environmental outcomes. 

Go Wild for Life’ is this year’s WED theme. Here at Seed Harvest Spoon we have been thinking about this theme, from a slightly different angle, after receiving a little gem in our inbox this week.  

For Seed Harvest Spoon, this year’s WED theme is the perfect prompt to reflect on the importance for children to be in nature and have the chance to ‘go (just a little bit) wild’.


As a global day of awareness, WED presses us to think about the big environmental challenges. As adults we know the impact of global warming, loss of biodiversity, reduced habitat, and rising ocean temperatures. We understand why it is important that we take proactive steps to make a difference. For most of us, the impetus to take action is driven by a clear vision of what will be lost if we don’t.   

As children though, the experience is different. The world is something they are still learning about and as they learn they will develop their individual priorities and values based on the experiences they are exposed to. 

At Seed Harvest Spoon a priority for us, in inspiring a lifelong commitment to protecting our natural environment, is supporting children to discover a sense of wonder and awe about the natural world. In our workshops children play with soil, get their hands dirty, go searching for insects, plant a seed and watch it grow! 

They are, at least for a short time, immersed in nature. 

Our inspiration boost for this week (and for WED) was a quote from renowned and respected environmental champion, Bill McKibben. Both uplifting and timely it serves as a reminder on the importance of letting children ‘go wild’ and its lifelong impact. 

"...the goal is to get kids to fall in love with the world around them, and you don't really fall in love with a terminally ill planet…(we should help children) to understand what a beautiful place this world is. Once they figure that out, they will be its defenders."

We couldn’t agree more!

So with this in mind, let your kids ‘go wild’ this WED. Turn off the screens, take the kids outdoors, let them get their hands dirty and encourage them to find one thing in nature that makes them say “wow”.

You can read all about WED here and why they want us all to ‘Go Wild for Life’ this year here.

Author: Lisa Whatley
Seed Harvest Spoon Development & Grants Consultant
Copyright 2016: Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation Ltd.

Wonderful Water - Early Years Learing

Wednesday, May 11, 2016




Seed harvest Spoon has been talking water with 3-5year olds at Early Childhood centres around Sydney this past month. These children understand how important water is to people and to our planet. When we put the question to them, “Is water important?” little hands shoot up and small voices shriek out “Yes!” 

In response to “Why is water important?” we are assured that people need to drink water every day, to keep healthy. Animals need water too (especially fish) and so do our plants. 

While we celebrate World Water Day during March, we are reminded that water really is a precious, limited resource that we need to think about daily. It is worth revisiting the statistic that of all the water on our beautiful blue planet, only 3% is freshwater, and of that only 1% is available as drinking water. This 1% is shared by the whole world. 

We really are fortunate in this country to have the luxury of clean fresh water at our fingertips, and it is something that we are all perhaps guilty of taking for granted. Travelling in other countries can really drive that message home, we find ourselves looking forward to getting home and not having to worry about buying or boiling our water. 

We can be more thoughtful with our usage in our day-to-day lives, and our preschoolers can lead the way. Don’t put off fixing that leaking tap! Put a timer in the shower, 3-4 minutes is ample time, any longer really is luxury. Think about pouring bathwater on the garden- this is a great one to do with the kids. Being mindful of water usage is a great start. 

Re-read “Tiddalik- the frog who caused a Flood.” We really don’t want to be the selfish frogs of the world.

Author: Natalie Er
Seed Harvest Spoon Education Leader
Copyright 2016: Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation Ltd.


Happy Earth Day 2016!

Friday, April 22, 2016

 

Today is Earth Day, an international day of awareness established 46 years ago today by the Earth Day Network. The aim of Earth Day is to highlight an ongoing movement to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action for environmental sustainability. 

At Seed Harvest Spoon we are all about that too!

The Earth Day Network’s Mission is to ‘Build the world’s largest environmental movement’. They invite all individuals to take action by contributing to a collective target of 3 billion acts of green.  

As an organisation, Seed Harvest Spoon has been busily committing to various ‘green acts’ for three years now, teaching children and their families how they can contribute too. 

Check out our some of our earlier stories and posts about what we’ve been doing to achieve these ‘acts of green’: 

You can find more and make your own ‘act of green’ pledge here

Author: Lisa Whatley
Seed Harvest Spoon Development & Grants Consultant
Copyright 2016: Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation Ltd.
Source: http://www.earthday.org/

Successful Early Childhood Compost Story

Friday, December 11, 2015


We started composting at our service three years ago after doing the Seed Harvest Spoon composting program. It took a while for us to feel confident and after some trial and error we have found the balance.

We now have four compost bins in operation with one usually resting.

Some of the items we have found successful are paper towels, food scraps, shredded paper from the classroom and office, newspaper, coffee grounds, tea bags and excess paper and cardboard from the collage area.

We add our paper towels to the compost at the end of each day.

We also encourage families to use the bins.

We don’t put bread or meat in our compost.

To make the process part of our embedded practice: we are mentoring other educators. Staff members have an allocated task to make sure the program is successful.

We stir our compost once a week and that seems to be enough to produce healthy soil for our garden beds.


Author Sue - EC Teacher St. Andrews Kindergarten Abbotsford & 
Education Facilitator Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation

School Garden Funding Partnership - Three Schools Three Years

Monday, November 30, 2015

Melrose Park Public School’s community garden project given three years’ support by PAYCE


Melrose Park Public School is the third Sydney school to benefit from a multi-school three-year environmental education program being conducted by the Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation and funded by corporate sponsor, PAYCE.

The $200,000 Schools Program now covers support for three school community gardens in outer metropolitan Sydney, including two in the Parramatta region. The other schools are Telopea Public School and Riverwood Public School.

Under a partnership agreement with PAYCE and the schools, Seed Harvest Spoon will deliver weekly free workshops and tutorials over the next three years commencing first term in January. PAYCE has also provided funds to assist the schools to complete their 2015 programs of environmental learning.

The partnership is worth $52,000 to Melrose Park Public School, made up of $48,000 of three years’ support plus $4,000 to complete activities at the school in 2015 final term. In addition, PAYCE has provided a further $48,000 to Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation to cover the organisation’s development and operations.

Seed Harvest Spoon, a not-for-profit organisation based in Sydney’s Inner West, specialises in early childhood and primary school environmental education. Leading Australian property investment and development group, PAYCE, has been a strong supporter of environmental education and food gardening programs in schools and communities for several years.

Seed Harvest Spoon workshops and tutorials are delivered by highly skilled professionals adopting a whole-of-community approach. Teachers, parents and carers are encouraged to participate in the lessons alongside the students to increase knowledge, community involvement and interest to join events such as working bees and harvest days.

The partnership with Melrose Park Public School was announced today by Parramatta MP Geoff Lee and PAYCE General Manager, Dominic Sullivan during a visit to the school and inspection of its garden.

Dr Lee said the generous funding gesture by PAYCE would allow the school to enhance and expand its garden activities and strengthen its relationship with the local community.

“The garden has been a fantastic success for the school community over the last couple of years and the broader community have got right behind it through working bees and the volunteers program,” he said.

“The other good news is that the students are becoming better informed about growing food and biodiversity and, in turn, are encouraged to eat more fruit and vegetables, which in turn leads to healthy lifestyles.”

Mr Sullivan said PAYCE was thrilled to offer the long term environmental education program to Melrose Park Public School in partnership with Seed Harvest Spoon.

“We see any program that promotes the development of healthy local communities through personal health and wellbeing, strong and connected communities and a healthier environment as being most worthy of support,” he said.

“The program also promotes active community engagement through working bees, school incursions, local volunteering and community events in the garden itself.”

Mr Sullivan explained that the sponsorship with Seed Harvest Spoon was an extension of a relationship built up in recent years with Riverwood Public School and the local community, where community gardens at the school and Washington Park are flourishing.

“We’ve seen the benefits that flow from the hands-on, practical nature of this type of program, with pupils learning the importance of teamwork and developing self-confidence and the value of involving the community,” he said.

PAYCE Managing Director, Brian Boyd said the program showed young children the importance of the natural world and how healthy eating choices contributed to a healthy and long life.

“Melrose Park Public School has developed a wonderful garden of which they can be justly proud, but need money and other resources to keep it going,” he said.

“In this instance, PAYCE has come to the party with the necessary resources for the school and community to plan well into the future and continue with its development.

“With Seed Harvest Spoon on board, the school’s students and teachers now have the benefit of professional tutorship and mentoring by the very experienced and enthusiastic team,” Boyd said.

Principal Clare Kristensen said the school’s Kitchen Garden plays an important role in the environmental education of students and there was a lot to be gained from the PAYCE sponsored program.

“The garden is also used in relation to other activities such as digital photography, films and art,” she said.

“We are very grateful to PAYCE and their team for their corporate support and we look forward to a great relationship with them and the Seed Harvest Spoon team.”

Michelle Carrick, Seed Harvest Spoon’s Program Director said her organisation would deliver a staged program to the schools over the next three years.

“My colleagues and I are very excited to be able to continue the learning program we have just started at Melrose Park and one of the first steps in the New Year will be strengthening the volunteer and training programs,” she said.

“The final stage further down the track will involve empowering communities to lead the sustainability practices in their established gardens and will also include neighbouring schools participation through incursions and additional programs.”

About PAYCE

PAYCE is a public listed Australian company with a proven track record in creating exceptional new communities.

Founded in 1978, PAYCE is a recognised leader in innovative urban renewal, and has won a reputation for transforming places through its integrated residential, retail and commercial developments.

PAYCE has won numerous industry awards for its projects, including Development of the Year at the Urban Taskforce’s 2015 Awards and Best Retail and Commercial development in NSW and ACT at the 2015 Urban Development Institute of Australia’s Awards of Excellence and most recently best Retail development in Australia in the national Interior Design Excellence Awards. PAYCE is currently delivering an exciting new urban development, Royal Shores, and community amenities beside the Parramatta River at Ermington in partnership with Sekisui House Australia.

PAYCE is firmly committed to social equity. For many years, PAYCE has helped to provide support to those in society disadvantaged by circumstances. Working alongside respected not-for-profit organisations and groups, PAYCE supports the good work and services being delivered, and helps provide resources needed by these bodies in progressing towards hopeful futures and social harmony for those in need.

In addition to supporting the Seed Harvest Spoon Schools Program at a number of locations, PAYCE is currently working in partnership with the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul, Matthew Talbot Hostel, Adele, St Merkarious Charity and Windgap. PAYCE also recently formed a Foundation Partnership with the Sydney Street Choir to support the choir financially and corporately over the next three years.


 



Community Recipe Share

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fried Potato Cake (called Imomochi in Japan) - Kenshin

Ingredients
3 Peeled Potatoes (around 500g)
2 Tbs Potato starch
Rice Bran oil 
*25ml Soy Sauce
*50g Sugar
*25ml Mirin (Sweet cooking sauce)
*1 Tbs potato starch
*3 Tbs water

Instruction

  1. Cut the potatoes to 1/4 size.
  2. Steam the potatoes until all soft even inside.
  3. During steaming mix the *marked ingredients together will in the saucepan and heat them with whisking well until thickened.
  4. Put the steamed potatoes into a bowl and mash them until smooth.
  5. Put 2Tbs potato start into the bowl and mix with mashed potatoes well until the potato starch powder has disappeared.
  6. Take some mashed potato with your hand to build a palm sized flat round shape for all mashed potato.
  7. Put pan-button-covered amount of oil on the frying pan and preheat the pan with high heat.
  8. After the pan is heated well, fry the potato cakes on the pan.
  9. Fry them until the both surface have been a bit brown.
  10. Put fried potato cakes on the plate.
  11. Pour the sauce over the fried potato cakes and serve them.

Heart of a School Garden: Friendship, Food & Community Wellbeing

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We are often asked, ‘What’s the best thing about your job?’ For us top on the list is the diversity of people we meet and how these acquaintances or relationships enrich our opportunity for learning and zest for teaching. Whether it’s a conversation with a young child, student, a teacher or community member each interaction provides an insight to our work purpose

Asiye & Zorka Riverwood Community Garden

                                              Asiye & Zorka - Riverwood Community Garden 2015

We wanted to share with you the story of Zorka and Asiye, who are the best of friends. Together they radiate the heart and soul of Riverwood Public School garden. They support the garden to grow and flourish through their hard work, presence and commitment to creating a safe environment for the children to learn and belong. They no longer have children at the school, but they tend the garden each week out of authentic interest and wellbeing. For them the garden provides a sense of belonging to their community and heartfelt connection to their homeland. While they have been in Australia for around 40 years their cultural backgrounds of Macedonian and Turkish along with the 17 different cultures represented at the school embeds a deep character. 

What do you love most about coming to the garden? 

Zorka - My daughter was grown up, and I got lonely. I think I can sit here watch TV all day and get to be a bigger person than I am! This is my hobby. Being in the school garden reminds me of when my daughter was at school, and it is important the children know where food comes from. My daughter used to ask questions like ‘Does a watermelon grow on a tree?’ and I think the kids might be the same. It’s very important that they know where the food comes from, not just the shops. Watching the lifecycle of plants growing from seeds, to the table, makes my heart bigger. When I see the plants, I am jumping for joy! 

Asiye - This is my community. I like to watch the changes of the vegetables growing. I like to be busy. 

What changes have you seen over the time you have been here? 

This garden was empty, dry land before the garden. Hard work has made the difference to what is here today. 

What are your hopes for the garden? 

Zorka - For the future, the soil is still dry, it needs to be better, and that the garden is still looking as beautiful. 

What do you gain from the garden? 

It is joyful to see the plants growing, to see the students coming and eating, sharing the food; they pick it themselves and eat it here in the garden. 

Zorka and Asiye are the garden guardians, earth stewards and food producers. These two ladies have enriched our learning in the 3 years we have known them through our shared interest in growing food and nurturing a sense of place. Learning for us is about respect and creating opportunities for people to grow together. Creating communities of practice is essential to this social learning relationship. Learning evolves through shared stories, regular interaction, conversation, and openness where everyone feels valued for their contribution. Both ladies work in collaboration with the students to create a haven and special outdoor learning space representing the heart of the school. 

Zorka and Asiye delight in the knowledge that they are making a difference to their community, they do this to instil a community sense of pride. Harvest days in the school garden are a special community occasion; on these days Zorka and Asiye can be found in the garden hours beforehand preparing for the afternoon. During a big day of work they will stop for lunch by setting up their outdoor table and chairs with a simple spread of food where they both share a meal, conversation, laughter and stories with each other. They love this and it reminds them of how food was shared and celebrated in their respective home villages.

Volunteering their time to the school garden is only part of their commitment to community. They also volunteer to keep the streets of their community clean through the Community Clean Street Program an initiative organised by the Riverwood Community Centre, where citizens meet to pick up litter in their neighbourhood to improve their area. Zorka and Asiye are members of the Riverwood Community Garden a beautiful multicultural garden, abundant and thriving with 55 plots. You can sense the strong community connection in Riverwood where everyone works as a team to support cohesion and pride. Whether we are working towards a healthy environment, sustainability, food security or community health and wellbeing it is visible that difference is achievable at this grassroots level. 

Permaculture Principle 8: Integrate rather that segregate
Our goal for a strong community is to work as a team supporting each other to grow. Learning is collaborative based on a commitment to our purpose. Decisions are thoughtful and reflect the ethics of Permaculture: earth care, people care and fair share. We embrace the diversity of this community and love to hear stories of how food is the centre of cultural celebrations. Growing food brings us together, it unites across cultures as a common staple while valued as a highly prized gift when grown and shared amongst community. While the garden can bring us an abundance of healthy food, the garden offers community a sense of harmony and an authentic relationship with the earth and people around us. Identify your own community champions, nurture these relationships and delight in the pleasure of watching your garden grow together. Successful relationships in the school garden will help plants grow stronger and the produce taste better! 

For more information about Permaculture ethics and principles visit: http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/

Author: Michelle Carrick 
Seed Harvest Spoon Co-Founder & Program Director 
Copyright 2015: Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation Ltd.