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Plants, Poo, Worms and Chooks…

What’s not to love at Perth City Farm!

What do you do when you don’t know it all? You go to the experts of course!

That’s exactly what the Nature Warriors and Waste Warriors did, when they sort the expert advice from the wonderful and knowledgeable environmental advocates and superb gardeners at the Perth City Farm.

In response to the Bold Park Community School Sustainability Action Plan, the Year 3 and 4 students embarked on a tour like no other as they meandered through inner city Perth exploring the magical world of microbiomes and opening their eyes to a new realm of recycling.

The Perth City Farm, a not for profit organisation, has been in operation for 25 years. Its industrial roots are still very much imbedded in the landscape however, its philosophical demography and environment foci, is vastly different.  Once a barren, toxic wasteland, the now revitalised and re-visioned space is an environmentalist haven. The children were opened to a plethora of possibilities and inspired by a historical footprint that is not unlike their own school – and that’s food for thought!

On arrival to the Perth City Farm, we were met by Ben, our tour guide for the morning, a self-confessed composting and microbiomes geek, who loves everything on a micro scale. Ben took the Waste Warriors off on an ‘adventure’ around the farm leaving the Nature Warriors to spend time independently exploring the green spaces and journaling their thoughts and wonderings. The children used the PlantNet App on the iPads to identify the plethora of plants and fruit trees, others sketched observational drawings of the chickens while others slowly took in the scenery while eating their recess.

The tour began in the central area of farm, which featured magnificent edible and medicinal garden beds. Ben stripped some leaves of some the plants to reveal their amazing fragrant leaves and essential oils. Of particular note was the lavender, rosemary and mint. Some other plants had medicinal qualities such as those to support respiratory ailments.

Adjacent to these gardens, sit two magnificent industrial buildings. Once used to build and manufacture heavy machinery, they now act as memorable venues for weddings and other significant functions. Fees from the hire of these buildings fund the resources for the garden. The children were in awe of the marvellous art works (street art) painted on the buildings, although some children were adamant that the artwork was actually ‘graffiti’, which provided a very spirited and lively conversation.

Although these features were striking, the hub of the farm was arguably the nursery. Ali, the ‘Superwomen of the Plants’ passionately told the children about striking and propagating plants, all the while a team of volunteers buzzed around the nursery busily replanting and repotting succulents, herb and perennials for the Saturday market. Market garden sales of both the nursery and established plants on Saturday mornings, further support and resource the farm. The children were particularly taken aback at how striking a succulent just from a leaf lying on soil could be a profit bearing enterprise.

Onward from the nursery, we encountered the enormous chicken coup filled with luscious hens and one rambling duck. Of particular surprise was the very ingenious chicken feeder which required the hen to stand on a step to open the lid to the pellets. A wonderful way to keep the rats and other creatures away.

The recycling station was the ‘real’ provocation of the day. Who knew certain plastics such a milk bottle lids, batteries, soft plastics and nappies couldn’t be recycled? Well…we didn’t! So where do these go? The children were stunned that so much rubbish still ends up in land fill.

Ben – What do you know about recycling?

Athena – Everything goes to landfill

Mel – 5R’s

Zoe – You don’t have to throw things away you can make things with them

Maxi – What about those ‘stickies’ you get at Coles? Why are they making them out of plastic and what are they really for? it’s not good’

Lachie – What are jellyfish plastics?

Ben – They are the soft or crinkly plastics

To end our tour Ben led us to the ‘piece de resistance’ – the garden area, which is the largest area of the Farm. It was here where we could all get down and dirty. We smelt the different areas and stages of composting, held worms and learned about microbiomes – the stabilizer and killer of all things good and bad. The children were able to munch on crunchy vegetable leaves and serendipitously, slurp up a fallen passionfruit – yum! As we gathered back around the giant Wagyl (rainbow serpent) water feature we reflected on what type of sustainable projects we may be able to introduce back to our school and weave into a project. What a great way to begin thinking about sustainable practices.

Thank you Perth City Farm for your inspiration and passion! 

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