Sowing seeds of sustainability

The Living Smart Festival provides an opportunity for schools in the Lake Macquarie region to involve themselves with environmental education activities based on sustainability.

Now celebrating its 10th year, the event was held on Saturday 28 September at Speers Point Park, with St Joseph’s Primary School, Charlestown, St Francis Xavier’s Primary School, Belmont and St Joseph’s Primary School, Kilaben Bay all participating.

The school community of St Francis Xavier’s Primary School, Belmont entered the garden bed competition as part of its participation.

It presented an opportunity to further extend our awareness of the importance of gardening and sustainability. In 2019, our goal is to assist children in developing knowledge and skills in gardening and producing herbs and vegetables for the community at SFX.

This year, with the help of dedicated staff, the students have created flower beds and vegetable patches and learnt about sustainability and recycling.  These focus areas across the curriculum helped create the theme for our garden bed entry.

Year 2 spent time making “Bob the Scarecrow”. His body is made of recycled materials and clothed in an SFX school uniform. Year 5 discussed the three Rs — reduce, reuse and recycle — and made some visuals on cardboard that were displayed on a tree branch. Year 4 made some terrariums as part of their science unit, which became a featured part of the display.

Some of the different vegetables were donated by families of the school community. These vegetables and fruits will now be planted in our new garden bed that resulted from entering the festival.

Many people from our community attended the festival throughout the day and visited our entry. Teacher Leanne Treadwell and students Yanise and Xavier even posed for a photo with Bob. Thank you to all the students and staff who helped create our entry. We look forward to 2020.

Also, in preparation for Lake Macquarie City Council’s Living Smart Festival, a group of Year 6 students from St Joseph’s Primary School, Kilaben Bay worked on some project-based learning last term around the theme of sustainability. 

Students researched how to set up a worm farm and discovered creative ways to improve the aesthetics of the worm box. Food scraps from classroom fruit break feed the worms and fuel the production of fertiliser for our veggie gardens. Students also investigated things such as the use of flowers as companion plants to ward off unwanted insects and to assist in pollination of our crops.

Students were given a budget of $50 in the form of a Bunnings gift card and we are very proud of shopping the website to reach a total of $46.95 to provide plants and materials to create our Living Smart garden bed. Plants from our existing veggie gardens were also used.

Students were given the dimensions of the garden bed and set out to draw plans of their garden design, which was set up at the festival.

It was a very productive, rewarding and enjoyable experience and we look forward to further building and increasing our gardens and sustainability projects. 

The enthusiastic garden club from St Joseph’s Primary School, Charlestown were also involved in the festival in the school garden competition.

In addition to their regular garden duties, our gardening club, led by some wonderful parent helpers, planned then tended their selected crops over a few months so that all the produce would be looking its best on festival day. Students also researched and made other garden elements such as bird feeders, using a combination of recycling and upcycling of materials.

At the Living Smart Festival, we created a display showcasing the fruits of our labour. It was wonderful to see many schools, including many of our local Catholic schools, displaying their garden and environmental projects. Many St Joseph’s families came along to visit and cast their vote for our school.

The highlight of the day was the judging by Australia’s eco-gardening guru Costa Georgiadis and the positive feedback he gave to each school. His passion for the environment is infectious.

We want to thank our enthusiastic gardening group and parent helpers for their hard work and their focus on educating our community about sustainable living.

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