On Friday 27th March, the last day of Term 1, 30 teachers attended a VSGA ‘Teachers Involved in Gardens’ professional development workshop at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.
Prior to the workshop, teachers participated in the 2015 VSGA program launch by Deputy Premier and Education Minister the Hon. James Merlino. It was promising to hear Minister Merlino recognise the value and importance of school gardens in education. The VSGA is grateful for the government’s continued support of our program which shows that gardening and environmental practice can significantly contribute to a student’s educational journey.
The workshop itself began with Bill Thomas, Head of Sustainability at Bentleigh Secondary College (BSC), sharing his journey and successes at reducing the schools impact on the environment. One example shared was their construction of a wetland area on school grounds to capture the excess storm-water that couldn’t be harvested by the tanks. This water is treated and channelled to a sub-surface irrigation system that irrigates one of their playing fields. The wetland also improves the sites biodiversity providing valuable habitat for flora and fauna. Bill encouraged teachers to approach businesses for help with any projects.
Fabian Capomolla, our next presenter, co-founded The Little Vegie Patch Co. a nursery which focuses on helping people set up their own veggie patch and all things edible. Having assisted many families, businesses and schools set up gardens, Fab shared his three elements to setting up a garden – Location – Soil – Plants. One suggestion on how to save money was to plant straight into the ground, “garden beds don’t have to be raised”. With limited funds for gardens, Fab suggested growing directly in the ground and use money saved on vegetation. Fab also shared ideas for raising funds for school gardens – grants – ask local businesses – fund raising. Having been a nursery owner, Fab recommends asking local nurseries for old stock which they are often happy to get rid of.
The terrarium building segment was led by the BSC’s “Green Machine” student representatives, who taught the teachers in a role reverse the finer details on how to make a terrarium in a 2 litre drink bottle. Once shown by the students, the teachers got to get their hands dirty and build their own terrarium.
After the workshop teachers were free to explore the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show to pick up more handy and helpful tips and ideas from exhibitors and garden displays. Hopefully all attendees returned to school in term 2 full of fresh ideas and motivation.
The VSGA would like to thank Paradisia who kindly donated all the plants for our terrariums, Fiskars who donated the trowels for the teachers to use and keep as a gift and VISY who provided us with damaged bottles to use for our workshop. (Please press on the highlighted company names to be taken to their websites and support them in return for any gardening needs).
Also a big thank you to the BSC’s Green Machine students, Bill Thomas, Fabian Capomolla and Basil Natoli for sharing your time, gardening expertise and inspiring us to continue with our garden journeys.