Growing a tidy town

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Students from St Joseph’s School, Sorrento and their garden.6 September 2019

A garden designed and created by students led to St Joseph’s School, Sorrento, being named one of the finalists in the 2019 Tidy Towns Sustainable Communities Awards.

The garden began when students in Years 5 & 6 wanted to celebrate the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, and to encourage a wider range of birds, native bees and insects into the school grounds. Students visited the Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne and returned to school with images and knowledge of what they had experienced.

All students researched and designed their own indigenous sensory, edible and medicinal garden using the native plants of the Mornington Peninsula. They discovered their uses and benefits to the Boon Wurrung and Bunurong people. Students looked at plant species that our Indigenous groups would have used in everyday life, and how the indigenous flora and fauna have been depleted or endangered by the clearing of land for agricultural use and domesticated animals.

The students collaborated and worked with a number of people and groups, including:

  • Tracey O’Connor, a landscape architect and parent who recently established SorrentoHUB Coworkspace
  • the Point Nepean Men’s Shed, who constructed bird habitat boxes, seating, wicking boxes and insect hotels, and contributed many hours, funded by the Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Community Placemaking Grant
  • Jane Robins, Activities Organiser from Bunnings, who generously donated steel landscape rings and plants.

The garden builds on funding received through a Victorian Schools Garden Awards grant in 2018.

The winners of the Tidy Towns Sustainable Communities Awards will be announced in Dimboola on 26 October. Other Catholic school finalists include St Joseph’s School, Crib Point, and St Macartan’s School, Mornington.