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Wenona’s gardening program

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Deep inside Wenona, a veggie garden is flourishing as our green-thumbed Junior School students embrace the joys of growing their own food and flowers.

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It all started with the arrival of new Junior School Teacher Assistant, Mrs Mandy Edwards, who is passionate about helping children to grow, harvest, prepare and share their own food. In doing so, the girls have discovered that food does not drop magically from the sky to land on supermarket shelves. Instead, it takes time and effort to grow your own fruit and veggies, changing lives for the better in the process!

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To kick off the gardening program, Mrs Edwards needed a suitable space – a place with access to water and enough sunlight for plants to flourish. The only space available in Hooke House was already home to School Gardener, Mr Serge Dos Santos’s prized lavender bushes, but like Mrs Edwards, he was thrilled to see the students' new-found gardening enthusiasm and graciously relocated them to a sunny spot at Jackson House.

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With a space to work in, the students set about planning and designing the layout of their new garden. Using their communication and collaboration skills, as well as their Maths skills, they measured out the garden beds and calculated how much room there was for planting.

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Next they thought about the seasons and discussed why eating local, seasonal food is better for our health, for the environment and for our taste buds. They then factored this in to their decision-making about what to plant and why.

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They decided to grow vegetables and herbs in two of their garden beds, using the third to grow flowers. They then donned gloves and filled the beds with fresh soil and potting mix, carefully planting their seedlings and watering them, before covering the beds with pea straw to preserve the water content in the soil.

For some of the girls, this has been an entirely new experience, but one they’ve enjoyed immensely. And as the aim is for them – and their families – to eat whatever they grow, the girls are currently workshopping ideas about how best to do this.

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And the garden is not the only thing growing at Hooke House. The seeds of new friendships have been sown and a new sense of belonging is blossoming in the playground, along with new skills and interests. This includes a flourishing finger-knitting club. Most lunchtimes, a growing group of girls sit in a circle next to their garden beds happily crafting and chatting.

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Mrs Edwards has also sprinkled a little of her gardening magic at Woodstock, where herbs are thriving on the rooftop – alongside Mr Dos Santos’s fabled strawberries and tomatoes. And out on the front deck, a line of cosmos seeds have been planted next to the geraniums, which will hopefully attract birds, bees and butterflies in the summer.

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There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “Life begins when you plant a garden.” We couldn’t agree more. Bravo Mrs Edwards and our resident green thumbs!

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