We asked the teachers and students at Bobs Farm Public School why they signed up for the Kreative Koalas experience. This is what they said
We are passionate about sustainable living and protecting our local environment. As a school, we were made aware of the hardships New South Wales farmers were currently experiencing and we wanted to help.
We were shocked to discover the extent soil erosion and land degradation is affecting farmers, their crops and livestock. Along with the proposed sand mine decision within our area, this led us to choosing SDG 15 Life on the Land as the goal we wanted to foucs on at a local level .
What was their project big idea ?
Our project idea was to build awareness and to teach Bobs Farm students how to keep local land healthy and instil positive attitudes towards land preservation. Students’ worked as a team and brain stormed thoughts and ideas to recognise the major struggles of NSW farmers. We then discussed our findings and identified two significant causes of struggling farmers:
- Soil Erosion due to drought
- Land Degradation caused by unnecessary clearing
From here we outlined several project goals to help guide our action and to ensure our big idea is successful within our community.
The following big idea goals included:
- Raising awareness about soil erosion and land degradation and its affects towards local farmers.
- Prevent soil erosion in school playground and garden areas
- Improve soil quality in our school’s garden beds
- Stop further land degradation and soil erosion in high traffic car parking area at the front of our school
Students used several avenues to acheive their big idea project goals. These included:
- Inviting local farmer Callum Mercer, to an incursion at Bobs Farm Public to discuss the affects soil erosion and land degradation has towards farming.
- Use of ground covers, mulch and laying bark in high traffic student play areas and perimeters of school garden beds to prevent topsoil loss.
- Benefitting from students’ fruit and vegetable scraps to go towards composting to improve soil quality in garden beds.
- Laying a gravel section at the front of the school to stop soil erosion and further land degradation.
- The school took part in the ‘adopt the farmer’ initiative. We invited local farmers for an information session on 8th May where, 35 students raised $67 from an out of uniform event to send to Rural Aid contributing to the cost of sending hay bales to drought stricken farmers.
How Did they define Success?
Bobs Farm Public defined success through the following achievements:
- Students have increased their knowledge and extended awareness of #SDG 15 LIfe on the Land and understanding of the effects of soil erosion and land degradation has on food and fibre production. This was made possible by a visit to the school by Kookaburra Farm Stay business owner, Callum Mercer, who is also a parent of our school. Along with his farm manager Kate King, they presented for our students and community a discussion on the importance of sustainable farming, as well as koala preservation.
- Bobs Farm Green Team worked in conjunction with our local Bunnings store to cover the perimeters of the garden beds with mulch to help prevent land degradation and soil loss around the existing school garden and play equipment area. We then established a regular maintenance procedure to maintain mulch depth, preventing any further topsoil loss.
- Our Green Team established a composting bin system within our classrooms. Students were educated in what types of fruit and vegetable scraps are suitable for composting and which are not. Students emptied compost bins daily into our large compost bin, located within our kitchen garden area. This was then turned into soil, ready for our garden beds and improving soil condition throughout the year. In partnership with Bunnings, we have recently upgraded two of our raised garden beds and filling them with rich compost that the students have contributed to and we are now growing seasonal fruit and vegetables, which supply our school canteen with organic produce.
- It was brought forward in the schools P&C agenda to improve and help prevent further land degradation at the front of our school where parent parking and pick up occurs. Members of the P&C worked alongside with school staff to contact and organise local Port Stephens council, to inspect and suggest how to best revive the eroded and damaged land area at the front of the school. From there, the P&C liaised with local council and arranged a day to repair the damaged land area by filling it in with gravel and sand. The repair of the eroded land area has now prevented further loss of top soil and ground erosion caused by the high traffic area.
We asked the students what was Excellent, Unfortunate, or Surprising?
Unfortunate: Understanding and becoming aware of the hardships and struggles of farmers in NSW. We were shocked to learn how drought and land degradation has a ripple effect on the land and livestock of farmers.
Fortunate: Meeting a local farmer and providing the students with an authentic presentation on land management and how to maintain sustainable farming practice. For instance, to keep animal numbers down to a sustainable level to avoid over grazing in our paddocks and prevent damage to top soil.
Surprising: That students wanted to do more for sustainable living within our school. Our Green Team have improved upon our recycling and are now looking at improving our school’s sustainability circle. This will include the use of food scraps to feed our school chickens, who then give us eggs. We then sell these eggs to our school community, providing funds to buy seasonal seeds for our school garden and help produce food for our school canteen.
Congratulations Bobs Farm Public School tackling global challenges at a local level
Thank you to Heather Collins from New Zealand for this comment