|Title||Parent Volunteer Gardener Role Description (1.0)|
|Overview||The Parent Volunteer gardener (PVG) role is designed to be easy.
It is a similar workload to volunteering for a reading group.
This is not a difficult task. The regular time commitment is low. The rewards are high.
Each class in Somers Primary School (SPS) has its own “no-dig” raised garden bed.
These beds are approx. 2 square meters.
You only have one bed to manage. There is a lot of support available.
We recommend that each classroom has two or more parent volunteers that work together to support the kids, teachers and educational support staff (aides).
The beds have watering systems in place.
There are multiple resources available; compost, mulch, worm juice
Have a look at the details below and see if it fits in with your life, if not there are other ways to be a part of the Garden Community. At the end of this document there are a list of other ways to get involved,
|The Garden||The garden is located at the southern border of the school behind the junior school classrooms.
It has 13 Raised garden Beds, a shelf full of tools, a large bank of worm farms, three compost heaps, a large clear plastic poly tunnel which is fenced inside that fence a chook house is being placed in 2019.
|The Community||The SPS Kitchen Garden works like a community garden but inside the school.
So as a Volunteer Parent Gardener your role is similar to having a small garden bed in a community garden but with more support.
There are one or two volunteers associated with each class room/garden bed.
There are a a large group of people that contribute the support.
The infrastructure is all in place. Any problems with infrastructure will be dealt with by the greater garden community.
The heavier work is taken care of on the Garden Working Bees which happen each term.
|The Garden Committee||Garden Co-ordinators 2019 Doug Lynch 0403-989373
Garden Co-ordinator 2020 Tammy Alner
Healthy Eating Co-ordinator Ana Hughes
School Principal Hugh Greer
|Step By Step||Below is a simple step by step outline of the basic job description.|
|Step 1 Volunteer.||Volunteer. Each year we will put a call out to the parents from each classroom to find Parent Gardener Volunteers to help out at their own kids garden bed. Volunteers are asked to contact their teacher or contact the Garden Team. SomersSchoolGarden@gmail.com|
|Step 2 Confirm.||We usually get one or more volunteers per garden bed. We find things work best if two volunteers work together. So if you have a friend that has a child in the same class perhaps volunteer together. Once you have confirmed the only extra thing we ask of you is to get yourself a Working With Children Card. This is actually a very easy process and free for volunteers.|
|Step 3 Plan.||Meet up with your Childs teacher, the ESS (Aides) and the students in the classroom and discuss what you all want to do. Some classes have active gardeners among them and some do not. If you or the class have ideas go for it. If you do not have a plan of you own thats not a problem as we have pre-made back-up plan for you.|
|Step 4 Back-Up Plan.||We have a week-by-week template for activities in the garden. You are most welcome to use this template in full or in part as suits you and your class room.|
|Step 5 Variations||There are many variations that you may wish to consider. You can bring ideas from home, from your friends, things you’ve read or seen on TV or found on the Internet. It is up to you and the classroom you work with.|
|Step 6 Information||The garden has its own website;
We recommend https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/vegie-guide/
Here you can find out what to plant and when. You can find out about how to care for what you have planted and when you need to harvest. There is a lot of good info.
|Step 7 Week by week||REGULAR TIME SLOT; Try to find a time that works for you and your child’s teacher each week to spend 30-60 minutes in the garden. By the time you go to the classroom and get to the garden 30-60 minutes really flies by.
This doesn’t have to be every week, just see what you can do and have a chat with your child’s teacher.
We suggest you bring a small manageable group of kids out to the garden bed and get them involved with whatever activity is required; planting, weeding, mulching, picking etc etc
IRREGULAR VISITS; You can pop into the garden at anytime during school hours that suits you to see how things are going, it helps keep things in control and gives you an idea of what you might do with the kids from the class. Just after drop off or just before pick up are the most obvious times.
|Step 8 What to Plant?||Choose what you are planting. Choose your own plan or use the websites above or use the Back-Up Plan (see step 4).
You can plant using whatever system your team chooses; Moon Planting, grid planting, whatever!
The Garden Committee will try to grow seedlings from seed and tell you when they are available. In addition to this we keep an account at Balnarring Produce. (Formerly Balnarring Produce and Equestrian Supplies. Beside Balnarring Motors, a locally owned business that supports the garden.) If you want to get seedlings from Balnarring Produce tell the garden Co-ordinator and we will put you on the list of people that can collect seedlings on our account.
|Step 9 Getting Help||Some volunteers are absolute beginners and some are highly experienced. Whatever help you need just ask. Start with your Childs teacher if they are a keen gardener. If not ask the Garden Co-ordinator via email or telephone. In 2019 its Doug Lynch; SomersSchoolGarden@gmail.com (0403-989373)|
|Step 10 The Working Bees||The working bees in the garden are fun affairs involving a lot of kids (they help for a while and then go and have a big play around the school grounds). We have traditionally had a lunch involving as much garden produce as possible which is really nice for building friendships and sharing ideas.The working bees try to do a lot of the heavier work. We build garden beds, we fix things, we weed the paths, prune the trees, turn the compost|
|Changes||Things change. If for any reason you cannot continue as a volunteer that’s fine. If possible it would be very if you can recruit another volunteer from your Childs class room group. Either way just get in touch and tell us if things change.|
|Communication||We try to communicate with the Garden Community in a number of ways.
SCHOOL NEWSLETTER: We try to put updates about the garden in the school newsletter. Keep an eye on that if you can.
EMAIL; There is a garden email address; SomersSchoolGarden@gmail.com
We will send out emails to the garden groups at times.
INSTAGRAM; we have an instagram acc @SomersSchoolGarden where we post regularly. If you post anything on your personal accounts please use the hashtag #SomersSchoolGarden
TWITTER; We have a twitter account @SomSchooGarden At present this is very quiet as very few of our community use it.
FACEBOOK We do not have a Facebook page.
PRIVACY and SAFETY; It is important to be aware of the rules around publishing photos of any person on these platforms. The school keeps a list of the people whose photos are not to be shared. If you have any doubts don’t share a photo of a person. Do share photos of the garden though. (Instagram Hashtag #SomersSchoolGarden )
Communications; At present all communication is done by the Co-ordinator. If you think you could contribute and would like to take on some of social media work get in touch with the garden co-ordinator.
|Other ways to help||Green fingers?
Do you like Gardening but don’t have time?
Help out at a working bee.
Maybe be part of a team of volunteers for your Childs class and help occasionally or advise the others.
We would love to find people that grow from seed and could provide seedlings from home.
We would love to find people that can make use of the aquaponic system that is already set up in the poly-tunnel.
No Green Fingers?
Help out at a working bee.
Help with the chickens.
Perhaps you have a skill that may be useful in the garden occasionally? If you have a valuable skill that we might rarely need help with you could let us know. We may never need to call. Electrician, plumbing/irrigation, building (fences, sheds) etc etc
Helping with the once a year stall at the Somers Arts Fair. Maybe just make some jam or pickles and donate it to the Garden Stall at the Arts Fair. The list goes on.
Get involved with the Healthy Eating Projects in the School.
Social Media? As mentioned above under communication we try to communicate with our group and some people are really talented at this. If you like posting photos and such maybe you could help. It doesn’t have to be much, just being a second person posting to Instagram would be helpful.
One interesting area in which you may have skills of great value is fundraising. The school garden is an easy project to get funds for if you have the time and the skills. The Somers School Garden is part of a larger project to encourage healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle among our kids. We want to support this by radically improving the kitchen facilities at the school. This would be a multi-functioning space that would greatly enrich the school and be a great resource for multiple other school activities from the garden to the sports teams, from the pre-school group to better holiday programs. This is a great opportunity to leave a lasting positive mark on the school.
Version; 1.0 Date written; 4.2.19 Author; Doug Lynch
Thanks so much to the free fruit Tuesday Team who, supported by Balnarring and District Community Bank (Bendigo Bank), have arranged for fruit to be purchased or donated and come in every Tuesday this year to chop it up and give it to the kids.
The idea is to promote fresh fruit as a snack. It seems to be working.
And what a year it has been. Thanks everyone!! We came. We saw. We cultivated.
Thanks so, so much to Balnarring and District Community Bank who have donated significant funds to help us do what we do.
Thanks even more, if such a thing is possible, to all the volunteers that have helped us out and helped the kids out all year long.
Last week we were invited to do an interview with a much more established garden group up in Bonbeach.
Amy and Jade have a great set up, please check out their website growinggreenthumbs.com.au and there are other details at the bottom.
Here is what they sent us (in italics) and “our” answers.
“Growing Green Thumbs: our goal is to inspire and build a sustainable future for our kids and the planet through community connections. In a series of interviews, we aim to draw attention to our environment through our community’s best sustainable practices.
Who interests us? – Families’ who practice permaculture principles in their homes, business’ who promote and use sustainable practices and farmers’ who grow bio-dynamically or organically.
We think you are a great fit and would love to feature you!
Our message: We are dedicated to educating children and their families about the origins of food, the relationship we can form with nature and the joys of giving back to the earth by living sustainably.“
- How does your home, farm or business relate to our message?
We are a School Kitchen Garden focused on engagement. We have a large number of people each doing small amounts of work. We are a community.
- How would you quickly describe yourself?
We are an organically formed loose collective of parents, kids and teachers at a small school outside Melbourne. We have created a completely decentralised model where each class within the school gets to decide what they will do with their own section of the School Garden. We found a way to welcome all sorts of people into the community even if their fingers are not very green.
- What is the nature of your business, its motto and best practices?
We are not a business. No-one gets paid. We don’t really have a motto but “Growing Up Healthy” is a bit like a slogan for us.
4. Who or what inspired you to do what you do?
We were inspired by our children. The school had previously had a vibrant garden mostly driven by a few energetic teachers. When the major protagonists left, lost interest or no longer had the time the garden would fall into disrepair. Boom and bust, boom and bust. The majority of the time the brilliant teachers involved simply had less and less time to do things in the garden due the changing nature of their roles as teachers. We didn’t want it to become a little fiefdom with committees and politics and so on.
- What is your location?
Somers, on the south coast of the Mornington Peninsula looking out at Phillip Island and the Southern Ocean.
- What are your best practices for living more sustainably? Compost organic waste, use less plastics, recycling etc…
Where to start? Ours is a root and branch approach but each class group does it’s own things.
We make our own compost and worm farms process waste food.
The vast majority of our garden set up is made from recycled materials.
We use, re-use, repair and re-purpose anything.
We have interacted a lot with the science and art programs which brings in a lot of ideas and short term projects, some of which become part of our system.
We apply a lot of principles shared with permaculture and biodynamics but we are unaligned pragmatists, we pretty much had to be.
- If you grow food, how big is your growing space, what do you grow in? i.e.: raised earth beds, apple crates, containers.
Our space was significantly impacted by some new demountable classrooms in the last few years. We have a corner of the school grounds about 100 sq metres. The success of our program means that we are out growing that and we are slowly occupying other under used spaces around us. We have to be imaginative, collaborative, diplomatic and patient. It is going very well. We were well backed by the last principal who retired last year. Our new principal is fantastic. (Thanks Hugh!)
We have 12 classes in the school now after rapid growth over the last 5 years or so. Each class and the pre/post school care group has one Raised Earth Garden Bed. Each bed is made from recycled materials and built by the less green fingered souls among us.
Each bed is approx 2 metres squared. Each class forms its own plan for the garden and we help them form a team. The team involves the kids, the educational supports staff, the teacher and one or more parent volunteer.
The amount of work for each class can be tiny. The parents come and give 30-60 minutes every week or two. It is not much more time than leading a reading circle.
Around the beds we have shared areas for kids to work in, several fruit trees, compost heaps, a falling down shed or two and more.
- Why do you grow food?
Each class decides what to grow. Most of the time we grow food. We do encourage the kids to grow food producing plants but we do not dictate.
Why do we encourage food growing? We do so because we see an enormous opportunity to connect the school kids and school community with all the processes involved in bringing healthy food to the table and bringing healthy habits to our lives.
We encourage food growing as a part of a greater project focused upon reinforcing healthy living messages; being outdoors, having hands in the earth, being active, understanding how food is produced, understanding what grows locally, understanding how the food grown in the garden differ from the food available in a supermarket, understanding the work required to make what we survive on, understanding what foods are healthy and why, understanding that food is not something that comes from a factory; it is chaotic, muddy, unpredictable, labour-intensive, diverse and seasonal. By working with nature any of us can grow food.
- What do you do with the food you grow?
We share it. We have a parallel healthy eating program which uses the produce from the garden. We have a small produce stall outside assembly each Monday which is a combined healthy eating and maths project; three kids assist every week and do all the maths associated with pricing, weighing, working out individual prices and dealing with the cash takings.
- Do you use any organic, permaculture, hydroponic, bio-dynamic methods? Or keep chickens or bees?
We take from permaculture, bio-dynamics and other systems of food growth. We are almost organic but we don’t claim the label as we take donations of things like pea straw and manure which may or may not be certified organic. Any time we can choose organic substrates we do. We encourage organic processes, we promote moon-planting, we are re-purposing an old structure for a green house and we have plans to introduce chickens.
- What are the biggest rewards for you from your garden?
The Somers Primary School Kitchen Garden works like a community garden (& kitchen) based within a school. The biggest reward is the genuine community that has formed around the garden and now extends beyond it. The kids are part of families, the families are part of the community and the community is stronger and more connected due to their combined efforts.
- What is your greatest challenge in your urban farming or business endeavours?
Even though we have a very spread out work load there remains a risk that, after certain hard working personalities leave the school, the momentum could be lost. We have been planning for succession since the project was re-invigorated in the last couple of years. Recruitment has not been a problem but succession might be.
- Do you have any favourite tips to share?
Yes; Share. Share everything. Share the load. Share the benefits. Share the credit. Share the joy. Share the knowledge. Share the fruits of your labour.
- Are you involved with your community? Food is free project, community gardens, seed saving, share waste, volunteering?
Our project is 100% volunteer driven. The aim is to create a self-sustaining community garden within the school. The major projects closely associated with us would be the healthy eating program, the weekly free fruit days, the healthy lunch days once a term, the local Boomerang Bags group and several others
- What inspiring message would you like to give to the community?
You are already good enough to do what you want to do. Don’t let anyone, yourself included, hold you back. What you don’t yet know you will learn along the journey.”
Check out the Growing Green Thumbs people below;
Growing Green Thumbs
play. grow. eat. share
Hey Folks! Do you have a Working With Children Check?
It is important that we all get these checks done in order to volunteer with the kids in the school garden.
It is free and it is easy.
Go to the dedicated Victorian Government website by clicking here.
Select Volunteer and send it off. The school will require that we all have one of these.
Please, start it today, it is not hard and it is important. You start here;
I just did it and it took me 7 minutes. I did have my drivers licence and passport to hand.. At the end you get to this point;
Then you have to go to the Post Office. It really is really easy.
That was pretty easy.
So one large section 1-6 A-F was covered in tomato plants and it was a sad end to a sad life.
In short we had a poor crop from all but the Roma and the tigerella. Today we ended their pain and ended the festival of predation.
End result; a different strategy for next year and lots of little time green tomatoes.
Enter the inter web and Milwood Permaculture.