Growing more than just happy kids at Aparima College

Something new is growing at Aparima College and it’s got nothing to do with books or classrooms, but plenty to do with education. 

The College is in the process of building a community market garden but principal Cameron Davis is confident it is going to feed the students’ minds as much as their stomachs. 

The idea came after a previous initiative, The Tree Project, created a large space at the rear of the school. Original plans (suggested by the students) had been to create a playground space, however issues with soil suitability arose so it was decided a more environmental project should be chosen. 

Enter garden project lead Rebecca Perez and school librarian Hollie Guyton. 

Rebecca, a market gardener, and Hollie, a garden enthusiast, have spent the past few months setting up the garden space, with a range of vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees now growing. 

There are plans to plant more as the garden progresses, a huge tunnel house is in the pipeline, and there are plans to save seeds and use a smaller tunnel house to raise seedlings. 

“Ultimately the goal is that we get the garden to a level where it becomes a self-sustaining sort of thing and once it’s up and going that’s when we have the target of getting our science department and maths department involved,” Davis said. 

The school’s board had also been hugely supportive of the project. 

“(We are generating) a whole bunch of learning opportunities for kids around that sustainability process and it fits in to so many different curriculum areas and so many different opportunities to teach them about ways of looking after yourself and possible career opportunities that they may not know about. So for us, building into that local curriculum, the school is really excited about where that’s going to go.” 

“My hope is that there will be an aspect of it that the school continues to support. We see some huge benefits for the kids. It will become something that we will want to keep going.” 

As a community, Riverton was already fairly sustainably minded, and the garden was a way of not only building on that, but also creating learning opportunities for students. 

“What better way to teach kids about sustainability than actually generating food...It also gives kids options to grow their own food, which is a good life skill.” 

The education possibilities were also huge – the garden would hopefully eventually become a commercial enterprise, there were also opportunities for students to get involved in the physical building of the equipment needed for the garden, as well as the ongoing learning opportunities around where food comes from, how it’s grown, soil science, and other things associated with growing food, he said. 

‘It was a really good opportunity to create strong community links. By taking the punt and employing Rebecca and being able to use Rebecca and Hollie’s knowledge and passion and their already existing links with the community, we are already building that knowledge in the community about what’s happening in the school and getting more people involved, which is a really great opportunity for us in Riverton.” 

Article added: Monday 07 December 2020


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