The Green Sustainability Project at Hillarys Early Childhood Learning Centre

Hillarys Early Learning Centre garden
The children enjoyed planting and caring for their vegetables.
Every year since 2008 Coles and Junior Landcare have been providing grants to schools and youth groups to create gardens in their grounds or community.  The Hillarys Early Childhood Learning Centre, in Hillarys, Western Australia, received a $1100 grant in 2012 to develop an interactive sensory garden that involved not only the school and parent community but also members of the wider, local community. This is their story:
The Green Sustainability Project at Hillarys Early Childhood Learning Centre is a community project involving the staff from the school, the parent community and wider community (grandparents and interested members of the local community) which turned a very lifeless patch of unused ground attached to the Early Years Learning Centre into an interactive Sensory Garden.
The garden has been developed as a place for insects and birds to visit with plants selected for their flowering and other properties. The environmental impact of the garden is directly linked to providing students, their parents and the wider community with a tangible example of how an environmentally sensitive and productive garden can be constructed in a suburban area. Passive activities such as ‘quiet’ reading areas, games and science activities (insects, birds etc) complete the use of the garden as an interactive, sustainable community sensory garden.
Hillarys Early Years Centre garden volunteer
Overall, 65 Staff and parent volunteers helped build the sensory and vegetable garden over four busy bees.
The wider community is an important part of this garden. Many of the senior citizens of the school community, most of who do not have direct contact with the school, have expressed their interest in the project and have indicated that they will be keen to join with the Early Years Centre with provision of mentoring students, storytelling sessions and giving practical assistance with ‘gardening projects’.
Local businesses and community members have offered a great deal of support with donations of labour, mulch, rocks, timber and expertise as well as providing capital equipment and services at cost price. The branch manager of Coles Scarborough even supplied all food for the lunches at busy bees free of charge – a contribution that was very well received! It was recognised that the garden would require increased water supply, luckily the roof of the early years building is considerable for harvesting rain water and a tank was generously supplied to the school by JoJo Tanks at cost price.
Plants, especially those in the vegetable garden, are now thriving and the produce is being harvested for use by the students in classroom cooking. Many children have indicated that their families are now planting their own vegetable and environmental gardens at home after seeing how the garden has been established.
Leanne Scott, a teacher at the centre reports “This grant has made possible a project that has added a new dimension to our students in the Early Years Centre and will continue to do for many years. The opportunity to transform this barren ground to a garden that demonstrates a beautiful sustainable and environmentally friendly area that allows children to explore and learn has been acclaimed by the school and local community”.
To find out more information and apply for a Coles Junior Landcare Garden Grant visit the Junior Landcare website.