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‘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.







School Holiday Garden Maintenance

Friday, December 13, 2013

Worms

Keep your worms cool this summer! Before heading off for the holidays make sure your worms are well cared for – check if someone would like to take them home for the holidays. 
Keep your worm farm in a cool shaded area away from direct sun – optimum temperature for worms is around 13 to 25 degrees. 
Top them up with food to munch through – small pieces please, so that when you arrive back you have nutrient rich vermicast ready to give your garden a boost. 
Keep your worm farm moist and clean - flush through around 5 litres of water, keep a bucket handy to collect the juice, dilute to the colour of weak tea to add to your garden plants.
Keep the worm farm tap open over the holidays with a bucket under to collect juice – this will prevent water build up and possible drowning of worms. 

Compost

Stir your compost to aerate, add some moisture and a small handful of dolomite to balance the pH. Cover your compost with a hessian sack and let the busy little compost critters do the work for you while you are away! If you have compost ready to be used add this to your garden in the top 10cm of soil adding nutrient rich humus to keep your garden plants and life healthy while you are away.

Garden Beds

Harvest as much produce as possible to prevent it from rotting or wasting over the holidays. On the last day of school hold a garden harvest stall and give produce to families – you could ask for a small donation to raise funds that will help to purchase plants or seeds for the new year. 

Mulch your garden beds with a generous layer of sugar cane mulch or straw around 5cm thick to add nutrient to the soil, help to retain moisture and protect the soil from summers heat. 

Water is essential in keeping your garden plants and soil life healthy. If you have an irrigation system set the timer to regularly add water to garden beds in the late afternoon or evening. Otherwise organise for watering volunteers through the holidays to maintain the gardens – community members that live close to the school are often keen to help.


Nourish add worm juice and seasol to help boost your plants immunity and promote microbial balance in the soil.

Protect your plants from pests – add some netting around susceptible plants to keep the pests at bay from having a feast on your garden plants.

Have a lovely holiday!

Permaculture Principle – Produce No Waste

Thursday, September 05, 2013
This is a favourite permaculture principle of ours, as it encourages resourcefulness and creativity whilst minimising waste that goes to landfill. The purpose is to engage a shift of thinking from active consumer to thoughtful producer. It involves us actively taking responsibility for the amount of waste that we generate, by making changes to how we view unnecessary purchasing and packaging habits. 


Can we engage children in developing agency in waste reduction? 

Children grasp the concept and are active participants in promoting waste minimisation. They can achieve this through composting, worm farming, rethinking, reducing, reusing and recycling. Role models that support children’s learning and participation, will foster these skills to evolve as a way of life. 

Starting early is the key

Sorting waste is an easy skill for children to manage! Early mathematical skills of sorting and classifying are fostered when children are involved. Combining signage to represent these concepts will enhance pre-reading and writing development. 

What makes this even more interesting for children is the addition of animals, such as worms and chickens. Both these animals contribute to waste minimisation as they munch their way through our food scraps and garden waste. Their work provides us with nutrient rich organic matter called humus, for our garden soil to promote healthy plant growth. When these plants are eaten the nutrients are absorbed to promote the health of all living things – including us. Food scraps that go to landfill produce harmful methane gas and leachate that are pollutants to our environment, creating negative energy and intolerable smells. 

Starting small and embedding achievable practices, such as recycling waste by composting or worm farming will make a difference, leading to further awareness and implementation of other waste reduction strategies. If we take the lead we will inspire others to do the same.  

Positive energy is infectious particularly when children are involved! 

WIN a set of Kellie Bollard's wonderful children's books!

Friday, August 10, 2012

We are giving away a set of Kellie Bollard's awesome books:

In the Bin and Worms – the Mechanics of Organics, valued at $32!

To go into the draw for your chance to WIN simply:

1. 'Like' our Facebook page

2. ‘Like’ or comment on the Competition post on Facebook.

Entries close Friday 24 August, 2012 - winner will be drawn & announced on Monday 27 August, 2012.

Only open to Australian residents.

Creative Composting - "It's like a forest!"

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Today during our composting activity, the children had just finished adding some leaves and water to the compost bin when we all took a look inside. We started to talk about the environment that we had created for the worms and creatures who would soon make the compost bin their home, and turn our food scraps into humus for the garden. We spoke about the worms not liking the light, and that we need to remember to replace the lid after adding our food scraps. 

One of the children said, “It’s like a dark forest”. That started me thinking what a great learning extension this would be, as composting is natures way of recycling, and in the compost bin we are creating what would naturally occur on the forest or garden floor. 

A resource that would enhance this learning is “Leaf Litter” by Rachel Tonkin.  Even though this book is recommended for 5 year olds, it could be used to support the learning and ideas of younger children by introducing them to the community of animal life that live amongst and under the leaves, twigs and bark on the forest floor or in their own backyard.

Michelle.