Avid young gardeners from across the South East converged on Bemboka Public School last week.
On Wednesday, the school hosted the second Regional School Gardeners Convergence for the Bega Valley – the first was held in Eden in April last year.
Fifty-five pupils from 10 schools joined with teachers and parents for a full day of hands-on learning through specialty workshops and presentations.
The convergence involved a small contingent of upper primary pupils from Eden, Lumen Christi, Montessori, Mumbulla, St Pat’s Bega, Tathra, Quaama, Central Tilba and Nimmitabel as well as the host Bemboka.
Permaculture educator Dan Bakker led the convergence and said “it exceeded all his expectations – and I always aim high”.
The children were involved in basket and string-weaving with local organic materials and building earthen walls (with old socks filled with mud!).
There was also a workshop on Hugelkultur green waste garden construction, using common garden wastes to build, and immediately plant out, a raised bed.
Bemboka PS principal Jan Rogers said there was a great response from all involved.
“It was very positive from the kids, but even more so from the teachers and parents seeing the level of involvement and engagement from the students,” Ms Rogers said.
The convergence came on the back of a recent regional tour by ABC TV gardening personality Costa Georgiadis. Costa showed Bemboka pupils the merits of growing their own food, and discussed turning waste into resources, but Mr Bakker said his visit also included a chance to start some preparatory work for the convergence.
Bemboka has run a very successful Stephanie Alexander kitchen garden program for the past five years and holds fortnightly lessons focusing on gardening – and cooking with its produce.
The pupils feed an average of 25 people each fortnight with their garden’s bounty – whether teaching staff or members of the community who make a donation in return for a takeaway lunch.
“The garden is ever-evolving with its permacultiure theme,” Ms Rogers said.
“It’s constantly moving – but that’s a good thing and we’ve really tried to link it in with our curriculum.
“It’s become part of the culture at our school.”
Mr Bakker said organisations who contributed to the event and are worth acknowledging include Nethercote Market, Mumbulla Foundation, Bega Valley Shire Waste, PIP Permaculture Magaizine, Sprout Cafe Eden, Far South Coast Landcare and Wyndham Basketeers.