Mary coordinates the Orchards in Schools Programme for the Canterbury Horticulural Society. Our newsletter keeps you updated with growing trees and children.
Supporting schools to create productive, organic vegetable gardens.
Mary is an experienced school garden teacher. She has taught every level from pre school to high school. Mary initiated the Kids Grow Futures vegetable gardening programme in the Shirely area prior to the rebuilds. She also taught vegetable gardening at Aranui primary School.
The children of your school will learn to grow organic vegetables from seed and seedlings using local resources. The gardens will be luxuriant and a source of pride to children and community. Mary also teaches cooking with the produce in the garden.
A productive school garden can be established with 4 hours per week of experienced teaching with small groups.
- Vegetable Garden Design
- Tuition of growing skills with small groups in the garden
- Supporting exisiting initiaves by staff.
- Supporting schools to get started in growing food.
Your school garden is an outdoor classroom. The outdoor classroom enables children to explore the natural world at their own pace. Once the walls to education are removed, the children dive into the living interest of their garden. Collecting compost is like discovering a world of wonder for children as beetles, spiders, worms, centipedes all clamber about in their disturbed home. Half a dozen children staring into a barrow of compost and discussing how bugs and beetles move is Natural Learning.
Respect for all living creatures is one of the first principles of natural learning. Respect for living creatures means watching only. When children are allowed the time to watch how a worm moves or where a beetle goes, then they lose their fear of other living creatures and their fear is replaced by interest. Children learn to share the garden space with other creatures taking care to move gently around the butterfly and the plants that tumble out of the garden.
The design of your school garden is really important for its success. Designs need to vary with the age of the children. Pathways and access to the garden for children are critical. It is really hard to work in a garden if you can’t reach! There are many factors in the design of a school garden. Mary will come to your school and work with staff, parents and children to create together a beautiful useful garden that will be a centre of attraction. At Shirley Intermediate the garden attracted visitors like a magnet.
The Purpose of Vegetable Gardening in Schools
The first purpose of Vegetable Gardening in Schools is to provide children the opportunity to observe the world with their own eyes and to directly engage in a natural environment. Many of our children today are almost completely insulated from the natural environment, leaving them with a massive deficit in the knowledge of how the planet they live on works.
The second purpose is to give children the skills to grow organically and prepare their own food. Our children will be more resilient if they know the basics of growing their own food.
The third purpose to to encourage children to taste fresh food. Our society is experiencing massive health problems in the form of obesity, lack of exercise and diabetes. Children quickly learn how to hunt for snow peas or pluck a carrot. Children of all ages are amazed at the burst of flavour and sweetness from a freshly picked vegetable or fruit. It is a surprise for many that vegetables are sweet. Children who have been in the garden, see vegetables as tasty treats, while many children who are not exposed to the garden view vegetables with suspicion.
The fourth purpose is working together. Organic Vegetable Gardening works when we all work together. Recently children at Shirley Primary had grown 2 barrow loads pumpkins. It took three children working together to push and guide the barrow.
- Putting a tiny, hard seed in the ground and watching it grows is a magical process that completely engages children. “Look its taller than me now.”
- Children take pride in observing the unfolding world of the garden. Seeing the bee landing place on a broad bean or the ripening tomatoes. Is it ready yet?
- Secondary school students are equally fascinated in the ecosystem of the garden and the soil.
- Sharing the produce with each other and their families is a moment of connectedness.
Children come to the garden in small groups. A group of 6-8 is an ideal size. This provides each child plenty of opportunity to try new skills and practice them. In a small group, children can follow their interest. For example some children love watching bugs and beetles while others love digging and barrowing. Previous experience has shown that 45 minutes is an optimal lesson length.
The learning environment
- Hands on learning
- Experimentation is encouraged.
- Human realtionships are cooperative and appreciative.
- As children gain experience they are able to share gardening knowledge.
As an experienced teacher Mary is happy to take very small groups of children who have difficulty with classroom learning.
What the will children learn within the course of a year
Soil skills and knowledge
- Grown by our own hands.
- Understanding of the ecology of the soil through the Soil Food Web.
- Observation of the life in soil.
- Able to discover when soil is moist/wet/dry.
- Paricipate in building a compost heap.
- Able to use food waste to build soil fertility e.g. compost / bokashi.
- Able to use mulch.
- Respect for the soil e.g. no standing on the soil.
- Able to walk on pathways.
Plant skills and knowledge
- A seed tray set up by intermediate school children.
- Identifies leaves, stems and roots on a plant.
- Identifies the plants grown in the garden.
- Recognises some herbs from sight and smell.
- Identifies some weeds from sight and smell.
- Knows the basic functions of a leaf. Compare leaf shapes as an aid to identification.
- Knows the basic functions of a flower.
- Observes flowers interacting with insects.
- Discovers where the seeds are on a plant.
- Watering the garden.
- Able to transplant seedlings and hold them correctly.
- Able to form a seed drill in open ground.
- Able to plant seeds of different sizes.
- Able to plant sow seeds in a seed tray.
- Know that it takes time for plants to grow.
- Collect and harvest seeds.
- Identifies when a plant is ready for harvest.
- Able to harvest correctly e.g. removing peas, courgettes.
- Able to store harvest.
- Able to weed around plants.
- Able to follow a watering procedure.
- Harvesting broad beans.
- Enjoy eating fresh food in the garden e.g. snow peas.
- Collect harvest.
- Able to prepare vegetables for cooking.
Tools and technology
- Uses tools correctly and safely.
- Finding solutions to problems e.g. supporting climbing beans.
- Transporting water.
- Recycling - Using the garden to recycle waste matter through composting / worm farm.
Social and cooperative skills
- Happily share the garden space with other creatures.
- Share tools and working area.
- Able to share harvest with others.
- Work cooperatively to complete a project e.g. planting seeds.
- Enjoy the garden.
Phone: (03) 942 6840
Cell: 022 699 4143