VISIT ADELAIDE’S BLACK FOREST primary school and you quickly notice something different about the place…. aren’t they olive trees growing throughout the school grounds… and isn’t that a vegetable and fruit garden over there… and aren’t those school children in the garden instead of in a classroom inside… and what is it that those kids are putting into those dark coloured bottles with those green labels… just what is going on here?
What’s going on here is children learning in the school’s outdoor classroom in what is probably the longest-running school educational garden in Australia. And, yes, those kids can tell you all about the different grapes that grow in the garden and about the myriad other fruits and vegetables.
And as for that stuff in those bottles — it’s olive oil, and there’s a direct connection with the olive trees that dot the school grounds.
Today the Reception to Year 5 program is run by the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network’s Kate Hubmayer, who explained what goes on in this innovative school tucked away in Adelaide’s Black Forest.
“The olives are harvested by the school’s Greek neighbours who spend two weeks each year hitting the trees with sticks and collecting the olives on sheets as they fall”, said Kate.
“The olives are sent off to be pressed and the school goes halves in the oil with the neighbours. Students bottle the oil and label it, and it sells out very quickly at open gardens”.
Kate says she loves working in the garden with the younger children. “… and I like being able to take my chooks to work every day”.
Kate takes up the story: “The garden was established by some enthusiastic and dedicated parents, Alan and Muriel Norton, some 27 years ago. Since then, many teachers and volunteers have been involved in maintaining and expanding the garden itself, and integrating gardening into the school curriculum”
Long-time environmental education teacher, Graeme Hunt, delivers the Year Six and Seven garden program.
The school hosts regular tours and professional development sessions for teachers from other schools, making it perhaps the best developed example of the educational use of food gardens for primary education.