Victoria Minister for Education Minister Martin Dixon
School Gardens Spawn Winners For Learning And The Environment
Victor P Taffa
The search is on again for the Best School Gardens in the state. Education Minister Martin Dixon today launched the Victorian School Garden Awards from the impressive gardens at Croxton School in Northcote.
Now in its 34th year, the competition sees a panel of judges criss-cross the state in their search for the best school gardens.
Mr. Dixon said Croxton School was a perfect example of what could be achieved when gardening was integrated into the school curriculum.
Younger students use the vegetable patch and chicken shed in their maths classes, counting the eggs and the vegetables produced each day.
A group of 10 senior students formed a mobile unit that travels to community gardens throughout their area to perform maintenance.
“The school became the first to open its kitchen garden to neighbouring residents, offering eight plots for community use in exchange for help over summer.” Mr. Dixon said.
“These awards are about encouraging students to become more involved in their community and the environment.”
Mr. Dixon said gardening was not only an enjoyable pastime, but also vegetables grown by students in their school gardens promoted a healthy diet and taught students about the environment.
“Students can learn a lot from experiencing the simple pleasure of planting seeds and watching them grow.” Mr. Dixon said.
“Gardens can also be used to teach students important environmental messages, such as the importance of being water wise and being sustainable.”
“Kitchen gardens, which can be found in a growing number of Victorian schools, are helping to fight obesity by encouraging healthy eating.”
Mr. Dixon said judges were not necessarily looking for the most aesthetic school grounds, but for the school garden that had the most benefit for students, teachers and the community.
Today’s launch coincides with the opening of the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show tomorrow (Thursday).
The competition prize pool is worth $88,790, including a $45,000 turf and installation package from Turf Producers Association of Victoria, a $5800 ride-on mower from Kubota, and a $2,990 greenhouse from Fat Fruit and $35,000 in regional prizes.
The Victorian Government is the major sponsor of the competition, contributing $52,300.
It is open to all Victorian schools and last year attracted 200 entries, with winners announced in December at a special ceremony in the Botanical Gardens.