… a healthy inner life requires a satisfying relationship with the natural world
Throughout primary school and up to the end of year nine in secondary, students visit and revisit the farm to participate in gardening and farming. And they love it!
Our farm is just under five acres of cleared bushland in the northwest corner of the school. This provides the space for farming, gardening and building activities undertaken by various classes. The aspect tends southerly. The steeper area is planted with fruit trees and terraced to provide land for vegetable gardens. The upper section of minimal gradient provides more garden area and a dam has been added to the site.
Students of all ages spend productive, happy time at the farm. The work is physical and demanding – and it needs to be done! The students derive enormous satisfaction from handling real tools and doing real work…
Clearing land, making compost, building sheds, planting, harvesting, working together and listening, observing and communicating… . whatever the season or the age group, the farming experience teaches profound life lessons, including a readiness to do what is necessary, without complaint, simply because it needs to be done, a deep understanding of the self evident fact that in order to harvest one must plant, a direct observation of the influence of the rhythm of the seasons, recognition that production of food on a farm is a co-operative venture with the forces of nature, an understanding that nature needs animals and manures to keep the fertility of the soil, an awareness of the parts of life working together to form a whole. For instance, the roles of sunlight, water, bees, worms, wind, compost…
The students use, maintain and share all equipment and tools, cultivating a sense of responsibility and care for these items, learning skills, respecting skills.
Through choice of planting and observation, there is the irreplaceable first hand experience of the plant’s cycle of growth.
Students are introduced to biodynamics, currently the golden standard of organics in this country and to the notion of companion planting – which plants enjoy the company of which others, the best! Organic sprays for plant health and how to manage a biodynamic compost heap are discussed and experienced. Not to mention the obvious rewards that come from walking up to the farm through the bush, and spending an hour or two outdoors, in the sunshine or wind or rain or under the cumulus clouds, with friends, engaged in enjoyable physical work!
It is hoped that the student’s gardening experiences will foster an appreciative, heart-felt connection with nature that will continue or perhaps re-emerge in later adult life.