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‘Nurture fresh thinking for a healthy world’

SHS Garden Journal Blog

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.



Watch this space.....New Community Recipes from our Food Stories Program will be added in the next few days...August 2017

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.


Telopea Public School's community garden set to thrive from corporate funding

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Telopea Public School’s community garden will benefit from a three-year funding partnership announced today (September 18) between Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation and principal corporate sponsor, PAYCE.

Seed Harvest Spoon will deliver an expanded program free of charge to Telopea Public School for three years commencing from January 2016. PAYCE will also provide additional funds to assist the school to complete this year’s program of learning.

The partnership is worth $52,000 to Telopea Public School, made up of $48,000 for three years’ support plus $4,000 to complete activities at the school in the final term this year. In addition, PAYCE has pledged a further $48,000 to Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation over the same period 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 company, PAYCE, has been a strong supporter of the environmental education and food gardening program for several years.

Seed Harvest Spoon workshops are delivered to schools 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 development, community involvement and interest to join events such as, working bees and harvest days. 

The funding partnership was announced today (September 18) by Parramatta MP Geoff Lee and PAYCE General Manager, Dominic Sullivan during a visit to the school. Also attending were Michelle Carrick and Natalie Er from Seed Harvest Spoon, school Principal, Alan McGowen and school captains, Kathleen Birrell and Antwone Robertson.

Mr Lee congratulated PAYCE for its generous gesture in providing the funding for the next three years to allow the school to further develop the range of activities associated with the school community garden.

“The garden has been an outstanding success for both the school community and the broader community, who are very supportive and have become involved through working bees and the volunteer program,” he said.

“One of the most important outcomes from the Seed Harvest Spoon program is that the students learn about growing food and sustainability and are encouraged to eat more fruit and vegetables, which in turn leads to healthy eating and lifestyles.”

Mr Sullivan said PAYCE was thrilled to join with Seed Harvest Spoon in delivering its environmental education program to Telopea Public School.

“We fully support the program’s aims to facilitate the development of healthy local communities through personal health and wellbeing, strong and connected communities and a healthier environment,” he said.

“In addition to learning about growing food and ecology principles, the program promotes active community engagement through community working bees, school incursions, local volunteering and community events in the garden.

“The sponsorship is an extension of our successful long-term relationship with Riverwood Public School and the local community, where the school community garden is now flourishing in its fifth year.

“We have seen first-hand at Riverwood the benefits that flow from the hands-on, practical nature of the program, with pupils learning the importance of teamwork and developing self-confidence and improved self-esteem through their own efforts and achievements in the garden.

PAYCE Managing Director, Brian Boyd said the program was a wonderful way to introduce young children to the natural world and was a catalyst for them leading a healthy life through good nutrition and healthy eating choices.

“Telopea Public School has developed a wonderful productive garden through the efforts and enthusiasm of the students and the help of school community and PAYCE is pleased to come on board to keep that momentum going,” he said.

“The funding will allow the school and its teachers to continue to build on the good work to date under the tutorship and mentoring of the very experienced and enthusiastic team from Seed Harvest Spoon.”

Michelle Carrick, Seed Harvest Spoon’s Program Director said the long- term funding from PAYCE was most welcomed and will allow the organisation to grow its current one-year program to a program covering three years.

“We are excited to be able to continue the learning program we have started here with the students and teachers at Telopea Public School. Our vision is to extend the program’s reach to implement and strengthen community volunteer programs and training,” she said.

“The final stage 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. PAYCE is currently delivering an exciting new urban development, Royal Shores, 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.

PAYCE’s policy is to work alongside respected not-for-profit organisations and groups in supporting the good works being delivered, and to help 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, other organisations and bodies that PAYCE is currently working with include 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.



                                            

My Love Affair with Bees

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Like many enduring loves, it started before I was even aware of it. Sure, I knew bees. They were a part of my life. I remember vividly the first time a bee tried to attract my attention. It was the 1970’s, a hot summer day and I was running carefree and barefoot with my sister on the lawn in the front of our house. Then there was piercing pain, tears, shouts and then the long shockingly red painted fingernails of the lady next door extracting a stinger from my tender young foot. I am ashamed to admit now the wash of vengeful comfort I felt upon learning that the bee had in fact died after attacking an unarmed innocent such as myself.

As first meetings go, it was impactful. From that time on, a wary respect existed between us. The ice was only thawed quite recently, and descended almost instantly into full-blown amour. Attending a course on Native Stingless Bees with Michelle, we had declined the Early Bird offer to order our own hive of Tetragonula carbonaria, both of us baulking at the $350 price tag. On our way to the course, I predicted, that by the end of the day, we would succumb to the siren call that is knowledge and come home with a hive. How right I was. We could not write our names down fast enough on that order form during the first break in the course.

One of the main reasons I wanted my own native hive was to promote and support biodiversity. Pollination and ‘sugarbag’ honey are bonuses owning a hive. With honeybees in decline worldwide, it makes sense to be promoting the natives who have been here all along and who have co-evolved with our native flowering species.

So, I have my own hive now, and spend my days alternately checking on my bees, and scouring the garden for evidence of the other 1660 or so solitary native bees that may be lurking there. I love looking for the bright flash of iridescent blue that may reveal a Blue Banded bee, or peering into small reeds of bamboo or hydrangea where I might find a Carpenter bee. Holes in fences and wood often reveal the telltale cellophane whiskers of a Masked bee’s entrance. I am now bee conscious enough to catch the small flash of movement revealing the flattened abdomen of the Reed bee, cleverly designed to cover the entrance of its tunnel-like nest from predators. I love to stand, still, amongst the Thai Basil, and watch for the different hovering and looping flight patterns of varied bees, wasps and hoverflies.

I love peering under the house to look for burrows in the soft soil that may lead me to the (elusive, to me at least) burrow nest of a Blue Banded bee or Leafcutter bee. I check the crevices of every sandstone block, orcrumbling mortar for the same. I get such a thrill to see the neat, semi-circular cuts on my rose bush leaves that announce that a Leafcutter bee is nearby, labouring away making her beautiful leaf-tunnel nests. I have half an ear cocked at all times, ready to dash out at the distinctive low loud humming buzz of the Teddy Bear bee.

Having learnt so much already I am still voracious for more information on these everyday, secretive, abundant and quicksilver creatures.

I often wonder what I look like to my neighbours, who have a view overlooking my garden. What do they think when they see me frozen, in the vegie patch, unmoving for stretches of time? Or see me lurking with camera hopefully poised? Or, while sitting beside my white sugarbag hive, wistfully watching the sun glint on the wings of my tiny bees as they venture fearlessly up into the unknown; one second in my sights, and the next…gone.

As the season moves to winter, I know I will have to wait until spring before I see most of my solitary bee friends again. They will have provisioned their nests with eggs and food, prepupae, ready for spring hatching. Most of the adults will die over winter, a small number may hibernate.

Luckily, I’m not alone in my passion. I have met and been in touch with bee people who have the same quest for knowledge and information. I am jealous of the scientists and entomologists that get to spend their days looking at bees. I ampart of a Citizen Science movement, which started with a project at the University of Western Sydney, where we share sightings, photos, excitement and knowledge through social media.

My perception of the world around me now, occurs through bee eyes.

Some people may look out their window, and see gorgeous green parks and expanses of lawn; I now see a flowerless landscape, a bee desert. No forage for bees, most especially during the winter months, where there is little or no food resources. And have they sprayed that grass for weeds? Is it laced with Neonicotinoids?

I choose plants that will flower most of the year and I let most of my herbs and vegies flower and go to seed. These are measures that everyone can take. Most bees will be drawn to purple and blue plants, and they love Thai Basil. However, they will forage on most flowers if they have good nectar and pollen resources. A messy garden is perfect habitat for solitary natives that love a hollow stem to nest in. Evena small part of the garden left undisturbed, unplanted and unmulched, creates the habitat that small ground dwelling bees desperately need.

And I don’t think that is a bad thing, to always be thinking about bees. That is one of the best things about love; it inspires you to make changes, to make yourself a better person.


Author: Natalie Er
Seed Harvest Spoon Education Leader
Copyright 2015 Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation Ltd.


Amegilla asserta - Blue Banded bee © Bees Business

Amegilla bombiformis - Teddy Bear bee © Bees Business



Amphylaeus morosus - Masked bee © Bees Business


Lasioglossum parasphecodes sulthicum - Male Ground Dweller bee © Bees Business


Megachile maculariformis - Leaf Cutter bee © Bees Business

Xylocopa aeratus - Carpenter bee © Bees Business

Exoneura species - Reed bee © Bees Business

Children's Activities - August 2014

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Activity 1: A Splash of Colour


Resources

  • Variety of flower seeds: marigold, nasturtium, calendula, cosmos, cornflower, sweet alyssum, daisy and dill.
  • Small bowl

Method

  1. Combine flower seeds in bowl. 
  2. Use your fingertips to take a small handful of mixed seeds.
  3. Sprinkle seeds broadly over the garden soil like a gentle fall of rain.
  4. Water the garden seeds.
  5. Visit, wait and watch the seeds sprout and grow to provide a splash of colour throughout your veggie plants.
  6. The colour and fragrance of the flowers are an invitation to beneficial insects, such as bees, wasps, hoverfly, lacewings, ladybird, butterflies, hawk moths, dragonfly, damselfly, and lacewings, to protect and enhance your garden.

Activity 2: Design a Guild

What is a plant guild?

Plant Guild’s are an essential feature of a Permaculture garden as they strengthen growth and foster permanence. Guilds are groups of different plants that work together to use the features of each to maximise full potential. Picture garden diversity, including layers (stacks) of plants, with small plants that support large plants or trees and you will begin to see what a guild represents.
Some features of guilds:
Layers (think a forest) – groundcover, supportive plants, protective plants.
Soil regenerating plants.
Food for humans and animals.
Habitat for insects and animals.
Various root depths to maximise mineral/nutrient harvesting from soil levels.
Perennial plants - stability.
Plant variety to foster natural pest control, and promote beneficial insects.
Diversity to promote healthy ecosystems.

Do you have a fruit tree in your garden that is bare at ground level or being smothered by grass?

This is the perfect spot to create a guild. Conduct research on companion plants that will benefit your particular tree species.
Let’s look at the lemon tree as an example.

Lemon Tree Guild

Lemon Tree Characteristics:
Food – variety of uses in food preparation, medicinal properties.
Forage – flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects.
Habitat – birds, insects.
Lemon trees are heavy feeders and are susceptible to pest and disease attack.

Companion Plants 

Comfrey or legumes (sweet pea) slash and mulch to add nitrogen to soil.Nasturtium used for ground cover and aphid control.
Creeping thyme or lamb’s ear as ground cover plants to protect soil and provide habitat for soil creatures.
Dill, tansy, borage, marigold and lavender – attract beneficial insects.
Guava is a friend of the citrus family; planted close will aid health and protection. 
Grape vines entwined nearby to repel stink beetles.

Include native stingless Sugarbag bees (Tetragonula Carbonaria) within your garden – they love to forage on citrus plants contributing to pollination…

Author: Michelle Carrick
Seed Harvest Spoon Co-Founder and Program Director
Copyright 2014 Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation Ltd.

Permaculture Principle: Use and Value Diversity

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Diversity is all around us – nature, gardens, communities, families and schools. The growth and potential of these networks depends on shared interactions, relationships and how diversity is valued. 
A combination of skills, talents and attributes leads to productive, resilient and thriving ecosystems. Diversity enriches life when used in positive ways.

Diversity in the Garden

Acknowledging the many functions of individual elements within a network means we can make the most of their participation in an ecosystem. For example, think of our amazing worms that decompose food scraps and garden waste, provide and transport nutrients to soil through vermicast and secretions, aerate soil, while educating children about life cycles and ecology. Then we have the Comfrey plant - a nutrient rich garden mulch, compost activator, resilient garden edge barrier, liquid tea fertiliser, nitrogen fixing soil regeneration, dynamic accumulator, beneficial insect attracting flowers, the list goes on…

Within our backyard garden exists a thriving community. Interactions take place between living things and their environment every second of the day. Have you ever stopped to observe creatures hard at work acting with a sense of purpose in their environment?
 
Ants are always busy at work, lifting, moving or carrying their discoveries from one place to another, or leading an expedition for food. They are fantastic at aerating soil and even better at seed dispersal. They make up one of the many elements of our food web.
 
Our garden health and vitality depends upon a variety of plants and creatures to support its functioning. Diversity builds strength and stability = life balance.

A monoculture garden where rows of single type vegetable plants are grown together competing for the same resource, is susceptible to attack of pest and disease.
 
Our aim is to create a polyculture model, featuring patterns of support and interaction in the garden. The elements within a polyculture garden all work together in synergy to enhance life of soil, microorganisms, insects, plants, and wildlife. While a little competition is natural and important for growth, balance promotes wellbeing and quality which leads to life abundance.

How can you use and value diversity in your garden?

How can you strengthen the connections, and support multiple functions so that one species doesn’t dominate all others?

Some ideas for enhancing balance and biodiversity within your garden:

  • Interplant your herb and vegetable plants with colourful beneficial insect attracting edible flowers, such as marigold, calendula, nasturtium, chrysanthemums, lavender and borage.
  • Design and plan for guilds, companion planting, growing a combination of perennial and annual food plants to integrate the benefits and adaptations of different plants that will in turn support the common goal of each plant, while increasing the overall health of the garden ecosystem.
  • Encourage native bees to enhance pollination – bees require food for forage and materials for nest building. A garden abundant with a diversity of flowering plants, trees and herbs will provide bees with nectar, pollen and resources for habitat.

Author: Michelle Carrick
Seed Harvest Spoon Co-Founder and Program Director
Copyright 2014 Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation Ltd.

Using the Early Years Learning Framework Outcomes to Support Sustainability

Friday, April 11, 2014


Each day in Child Care Services opportunities for introducing Sustainability are available. Concepts that support The Early Years Learning Framework and My Time Our Place outcomes may be overlooked. By thinking about our own practice and being thoughtful of the lens' we use to do so, we can provide both the children that we work with and ourselves an opportunity to learn about our local community and the world we live in. 

The Early Years Learning Framework and My Time Our Place are measured against 5 key learning outcomes:



Learning Outcome 1: By talking about feelings when discussing our precious
fresh water supply and discussing strategies that the children may be involved in,
discuss the need to be aware of our own Environmental Footprint. Children learn to interact with care, empathy and respect. Children have a strong sense of identity.

Learning Outcome 2:
 Involve children in waste management and allow them to be involved in solutions about were their rubbish goes. This could be through simply separating waste into different bins labelled with pictures, or establishing a Worm Farm or Compost Bin. Discuss the different types of resources the children enjoy working with and if they can be sourced locally. Children become socially responsible and show respect for their environment. Children are connected with and contribute to their world. 

Learning Outcome 3: Going on local Community walks and identifying birds
and plant life gives children an understanding of their local community and who
they share it with. Discussion about healthy eating can be supported by growing
favourite vegetables such as carrots or peas. The story of the "Enormous
Turnip" could be acted out. Children have a strong sense of wellbeing.

Learning Outcome 4:
 Recognise that when children jump in to a puddle they are
engaging in an investigation. Build on a child's interest in their local community
and environment. Educators can build on children's inquisitiveness by
introducing both natural and recycled materials to encourage questions and
hypothesising. Children are confident and involved learners.

Learning Outcome 5:
 Introduce the seasons to children explaining the
changes each season brings, and grow seasonal vegetables. Expanding
on this to encourage discussion and terms to represent what is occurring, like asking
"Where does a cloud come from?", could provide a discussion about precipitation
and condensation. Even very young children can be involved with songs and
stories about rain and water. "Tiddalick" is a great story to support this concept.
Introduce and use resources that are recycled such as boxes or containers as
props for children to use, explaining to them how important it is for all of us to
recycle and not over-consume the natural resources of our community. Children
are effective communicators.


If we consider ways in which sustainable practices can be embedded throughout
the day, our philosophy will reflect this.



References:

  • Commonwealth of Aust. 2009b; Belonging, Being and Becoming, The Early
Years Learning Framework of Australia, Canberra ACT; DEEWR,
http;www.deewr.gov.au/early learning
  • Raban, B, Margetts, K, Church, A, Deans, J, 2010; The Early Years Learning
Framework in Practice; MA Education
  • Vegotsky, L, 1978; Mind and Society: The Development of Higher Mental
Processes MS: Cambridge University Press.

Written by: Sharon Dodd-Gilhooly - SHS Facilitator; March 2014

Copyright Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation