Top marks for Geraldton college’s sustainable living programs

Stan MaleyMidwest Times
Kelly Harrington with a sorghum plant inside the quadrangle at Strathalbyn Christian College.
Camera IconKelly Harrington with a sorghum plant inside the quadrangle at Strathalbyn Christian College. Credit: Midwest Times, Stan Maley

OPINION: GARDEN OF LIFE

At Strathalbyn Christian College a lot of emphasis has been placed on getting students into hands-on garden work — growing fruit and veggies, harvesting them and making edible products.

Kelly Harrington co-ordinates land management at the Geraldton school and Kate Wheat is curriculum co-ordinator.

The garden beds aren’t looking too bad considering it is nearly the end of summer and we have had a lot of strong winds in the past three months.

Kate explained how Kelly had worked with the different age groups to grow edible plants in the planter boxes and garden beds scattered about the school buildings.

“The primary kids have been doing a lot of things with Kelly,” Kate said.

“From flower oils to planting wheat outside Year 1 classroom, watching it grow, harvesting it, then ground it up and made bread. Another project was picking olives from our trees, preparing them, pickling them to put into jars. That was pretty cool.”

“Kindergarten and Year 5 grew some potatoes,” Kelly said.

“The kindy kids also had a wicking bed and grew some vegies in there. Year 2 had a bed, they pretended to be cows by stomping on everything in the bed and seeing what would grow up. They used sorghum as trellises for peas to grow on, with cucumber vines as well.”

Kelly Harrington and Kate Wheat next to a bed of corn at Strathalbyn Christian College.
Camera IconKelly Harrington and Kate Wheat next to a bed of corn at Strathalbyn Christian College. Credit: Midwest Times, Stan Maley

Kelly outlined the activities the school conducted with different classes over the year.

Duck eggs were collected and they were used to make lemon butter.

Year 6 and Year 9 students planted bush tucker out the front.

Year 6s researched various grains and followed that up by making flour out of wheat, sorghum and spelt. Carobs were ground down to make hot chocolate.

The Year 7 projects involved different vegie patches in 12-week sessions where they decide what they are to plant and water. This is supervised by teacher Jordan Sanders, a former college student.

The Year 8s did wicking bed projects around the school and looked at fibres such as henna and cotton, as opposed to food, and they will also look at wool.

The Year 9s are working with aquaponics and look after the orchard.

Aquaponics set up at Strathalbyn Christian College.
Camera IconAquaponics set up at Strathalbyn Christian College. Credit: Stan Maley

Last year, the Year 10s made a chicken tractor and a small house on wheels, which accommodates ducks. They are working on enlarging the chicken coop.

Year 11s do soil testing and crop calendars over winter and a market stall for the garden produce.

The college is well on the way towards creating a sustainable eco-system that can be taught to students who could then take this knowledge out in the world, to help create a better climate for them to live in.

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