Sowing the seeds for future growth

NEW Town High School and its Old Scholars Association has been engaging students in developing a community garden as part of its Urban Food Project.

New Town High School principal David Kilpatrick said the project was a collaboration between Kickstart Arts, the students at the school and the Old Scholars Association, and its purpose was to provide mentoring, support and educational opportunities for year seven to 12 students.

“What we’re trying to do is demonstrate, learn and experiment with how you can provide food out of the backyard of your house,” he said.

“We’re trying to come up with solutions on how to grow food, where to grow it, and what to grow to provide to their families.

“The students are doing things such as experimenting with the use of hot houses, using worm farms and making their own compost – it is not an enterprise, it’s just about learning how to grow food for your own consumption.”

Mr Kilpatrick said it was also a future pathway for year nine students to study agriculture and aquaculture as part of the school’s new year 11 and 12 courses next year and beyond.

“We’ve got several student groups coming up here,” he said.

“We’re deliberately trying not to guide them too much because we’re hoping they don’t need to wait on our instructions and just get into it.”

The site will be developed for agriculture and aquaculture learning projects.

Year nine New Town High School student Mitchel said he had learnt a number of skills.

“We’ve done some digging and shovelling, and learnt what time to plant seeds – it’s been fun,” he said.

Members of the Old Scholars Association had been providing mentoring for the students throughout the project.

“We’re teaching the kids how to grow sufficient food in their backyard to support them all year,” Old Scholars Association committee member Rick Cazaly said.

“It’s also good for our own mental health – we’re involved in something that is greater than us, something that will be around when we’re gone, but our mark will be setting it up and getting it going and moving.”

Mr Cazaly said the garden would also be used for a number of other initiatives including a mental health group and for people that have been involved in the justice system and have come back into society.

“They’ll be separate projects and will focus on using gardening to improve health and wellbeing, and support and nurture people back into society,” he said.

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