Empire Bay PS embarks on sustainability journey

Students planting vegetables for their ‘Paddock to Plate’ project

Empire Bay Public School has launched its new sustainability journey with a series of projects aimed at changing the culture and routine surrounding its environmental practices.

With previous experiences of sustainability learning in the parent-driven ‘Garden Group’, students at the school will be offered opportunities in gardening, waste-management, cooking and water conservation.

Teacher Lisa Maddick said the changes need to be on-going and not just part of a plan for the 2021 school year.

“Sustainability is a serious issue for this generation of kids.

“Teachers and students together will be looking more closely at our habits, our choices and our behaviours at school and in the community,” Maddick said.

“As for time frames, it is a work in progress and some projects, like the Bush Tucker Garden, require a bit more planning, but for the most part it’s all happening.

“The intention is that it will be an on-going part of education at Empire Bay.

“Our kitchen garden program has begun … these experiences are so important because they promote environmental and sustainability practices and connect students with healthy food and lifestyles.

“We have also had advice from a local beekeeper about our current practices and how to increase the very important pollinators in our area.

“The kids love it!”

A new gardening program of composting and worm farming has also been offered to students from all years with each classroom having a raised garden bed of their own.

Students will be asked to care for the farm and learn about the benefits of composting and using natural nutrients, instead of chemical fertilisers when planting.

A bush tucker garden is also undergoing planning with support from local Indigenous community members for advice in introducing native plants to the garden.

During their partnership with the Rumbalara Environment Education Centre, the School has also completed an entire waste audit of the grounds.

“We have teamed up with the Centre and, with students, recently completed a biodiversity and habitat survey of our school grounds,” Maddick said.

“We were amazed to see how much plastic was not being recycled and the enormous amount of organic waste going to landfill.

“The important thing about this process is the conversations we are having with students – they are involved in the decision-making and the steps that change our habits and our behaviours.”

The school also aims to introduce waste-free lunch boxes to help in the reduction of waste to landfill, with plans to launch a beeswax wrap fundraiser later this month.

Maisy Rae