School gardens and community engagement

Establishing the gardenYesterday we had a meeting at my daughters’ school to discuss the LEAP Frog Food and Art Garden. The garden, part of the Lambton Environment Awareness Program (LEAP Frog), was estalished in 2009 and has the potential to be a real resource for the school. Last year Cathy put lots of energy into the garden (and other environmental initiatives) and become somewhat burnt out. We weren’t really all that successful in engaging parents and teachers in a sustained way. We had good support from some parents and teachers, and had a number of succesful working bees and workshops, but found it hard to maintain ongoing enthusiasm.

One of the challenges is that the garden is at the back of the school so many parents don’t actually see it all that much.

It’s now a new year so we are going to try again. Six of us met in the garden (and three others apologised)  to consider how we can rejuvenate the garden. There seems to be some energy and enthusiasm; so I’m feeling quite hopeful. (But then I am an optomistic idealist!)

We are going to try a few things:

  • A couple of the mums are going to run a regular garden club from 2:00 to 4:00 on Friday afternoons. Parents will come at 2:00 and students from 3:00)
  • Another dad and I are going to do some work once a week in the morning for a while to help tidy things up
  • We are planning an all day working bee in March. It’s all day so people can come and go and we will have a BBQ lunch to make it a bit of a social event as well.
  • We hope to have some conversations with a few enthusiastic teachers about how to ensure the garden is a useful educational resource
  • We will have weekly updates in the school newsletter (Two of us are responsible the P&C news in the newsletter so we can make sure it happens).

I know I’m an optomist but I really do have a good feeling about it this time. Wish us luck.

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), environmentalist, Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace & sustainability.
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