Another busy day yesterday as our growing hub of community garden educators get together with the local Home School Network. We’re planning to visit 10 schools in the next couple of weeks, care of Footbeat Festival and Blue Mountains City Council. Gathering together volunteer community gardeners, teachers and children in each school. Lizzie and Sue run a dual purpose session today, as well as guiding parents and children from the Blue Mountains Homeschool Network in planting out their boxes, some of us are also learning how to run a workshop for other schools up and down the Blue Mountains over the next two weeks.
There’s a bit of preparation to do first, holes are made in the bottom of old recycling boxes. The council here has moved to wheelie bins, leaving a good number of these puppies lying around, so we’re keen to keep with the recycling theme. Blue Mountains region is making great headway according to Councillor Searle, having increased recycling by over 8% over the last year, in comparison to City of Sydney’s 3% rise. Just wait till you get those wheelie bins in the city folks, they make such a difference.
Gathering up the old style crates, Janet and Sue poke holes through the bottom to let water drain freely through. The vegetables’ roots will live in the top 10 cm of the box, so we raise the level with filler material. this will keep the weight of the boxes down, as well as only using as much soil as we need. In the very bottom of the boxes goes newspaper, light filler material, we had polystyrene handy so in that went. Some great soil care of the council, and vermiculite added (its lighter than soil and also helps with aeration too).
“Which way is North”? All hands up in the air, “which way” little fingers all point North. “Veggies need at least 6 hours sunlight to grow really well, so which way will the boxes face?” Good, right, looks like our boxes wont have any trouble seeing the sun.
in go the veggies
Together we set up 10 kitchen garden boxes. 11 seedlings for each box from suppliers like Oasis, as well as onions kale and leeks grown here in the gardens.
With so many willing workers the job is done in lightning speed. Seedlings are carefully planted leaving enough room for the size the plant will become, around 11 plants in each. Once the plants are in the box, attention spans do begin to wander and the call of the big pile of soil is just too much. All the plants are safely in the boxes, and to complete this session, all that’s left to do is take them home and water them.
An Epilogue from Sue:
The feeling of energy and excitement that these classes have communicated (for myself anyway), inspired me the way Banjo Patterson’s poem The Man from Snowy River. After being at two schools today my expectation were as stirred up as the children and having been asked to write something about the experience so far; I feel fanciful enough to tell you:
There was movement in the playground, for the word had passed around
This lesson was outdoors for to-day
Planting seedlings into boxes; that might grow veggies by the pound
So students and teacher gathered to the fray
Some tried and noted gardeners from the villages near and far
Had mustered tools from ‘Toomba Garden overnight,
Backyard experts with skills and knowledge, and a willingness to share
So the children gathered eager with delight.
Or as another school’s teacher described his class ‘they flapped around like seagulls’, perhaps ravenous for bits of informational jetsam from passersby.
All lightheartedness aside -I can report that thanks to BMCC huge mounds of soil have been delivered to each school involved and about a hundred seedling planted into the older style recycling crates by a chosen number of students/or class. I have been back to three schools in the program, as have others in the team, andc. Some have already been decorated and others mulched.