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Epping North Public School Garden blog

Epping North Public School and its 460 students, from K to 6, are learning about nature and sustainability the fun way, with the creation, three years ago, of an 18-bed garden (enough for one bed per class).

We are going to be visiting Epping North Public School Garden regularly and take an active support role in the nurturing of this garden and its group of eager students.

 Current plantings include winter vegetables such as spinach, beetroot, onions, broccoli, climbing beans and snow peas, plus kale and pumpkins.  There is a mix of fruits from blueberries and bananas to mandarins, limes, lemons, oranges and bananas – plus a selection of herbs.

North epping public school garden

The garden’s upkeep, planting, soil turning, weeding and feeding is carried out by two environment monitors from each class (30 in all) who visit 2 – 3 times a week. This role is considered a leadership position.

Each student, in the entire school, visits the garden at least once a fortnight, with many teachers choosing to hold science lessons, such as the lifecycle of plants, within the garden.

North epping public school garden

Currently the school garden has three compost bins and two worm farms, each of which is fully operational and very successful. The rich, friable soil from the compost bins, together with the nutrient-rich ‘worm wee’ from the worm farms, create natural fertiliser for all of the beds.

Future plans include the arrival, in Spring, of several stingless native bee hives – their role will be that of busy little pollinator! And when the garden hits its stride, in terms of productivity, the canteen has plans to incorporate some of the produce – lettuce, leafy greens, tomatoes, herbs, etc – into their school lunches.

Snow peas at North Epping Public School garden

Under the guidance of teacher/librarian Mitchell Stone, all students are encouraged to spend time and get actively involved in the garden. He says that the younger children especially, love plants they can smell and pick. So, more vegetables and herbs are on the planting list! “I’ve found these types of plants are a great stepping stone towards the children enjoying the garden more,” he said.

Here, at JACK, we love this type of story – a garden teaches so much to people of all ages, especially children. So excited are we that we have donated a collection of JACK horticultural support products to the school, including mesh, netting, ties, plant props and stakes, trellises, cages and garden gloves that will help them plant, grow and protect their crops.

Epping North Public June Hornsby Council worming session

August 2023 Update

There was a special visitor to the garden in June 2023. The school’s local Hornsby Council gave the students a workshop on compost and worms! The Council ‘teachers’ came bearing lots of buckets, each containing worms, compost, used coffee grounds, used husks and shells from coffee beans, and shredded paper.

Students were more than willing to get their hands dirty, mixing these ‘ingredients’ together to create their own mini ‘super compost/worm mix’.

Epping North public compost

The children then had to mix their compost or worm mix into the garden soil and around the veges and herbs, while learning to use their gardening tools properly.

They loved it!! There were lots of dirty hands and lots of handling of wriggly worms!

We can’t wait to see the difference these skills make to their crops.

Epping North Public school Garden worming session

Hornsby Council kindly donated lots of worms and compost – and now the school’s compost bin and worm farms are all nicely topped up as well!

There are also signs of some great lettuces, snow peas and various beans etc coming through.

We are going to be visiting Epping North Public School Garden regularly and take an active support role in the nurturing of this garden and its group of eager students.

ENPS_Decemberupdate

December 2023 Update

In the race to the end of the year, the school garden is a hive of activity. The weeding and pruning of all veges and herbs is a priority, as is the completion of the native tree labels. All the school’s trees will have labels that identify them via their botanic name as well as give information on the traditional indigenous uses of the tree’s bark, leaves and/or flowers. For example, the nectar from the grevillea flower was soaked in water, to make a sweet drink. This labelling initiative has proven popular with students AND teachers.

The students are also using a clinometer to measure the height of their Bunya Pine. It’s obviously quite a mature tree as current estimate is about 35m tall!

Epping North Public School Parsley

The parsley patch thrived, but a little too quickly! Good soil and ample sunshine meant the plants grew very big, very quickly – and all too soon went to seed. Students are currently cutting them right back, with the hope they will reshoot and produce lots of lush, green parsley for students to take home to their families.

Epping North PS-tomato

The four native stingless bee hives are proving to be a big hit. Students are enjoying learning about the bees’ lifestyle – the fact they are attracted to blue, white mauve and purple flowers and that there can be as many as 10,000 bees in a single hive! And while these bees produce very little honey, they are terrific little helpers in other ways. They are excellent pollinators – resulting in bigger harvests of fruit and vegetables. The students are currently engaged in an important experiment – the comparison of compost bins, some of which have food scraps and some don’t. We will report back on the results!

Quite recently the students planted some mini tomato tubestock, which quickly went crazy! The position is obviously ideal for these sweet treats – but sadly, the fruit will probably be perfect for picking while the students are on their summer break! The students were thrilled to see such prodigious growth though and have learnt valuable lessons re the planting and nurturing of seedlings.