Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Wreath

Produce was harvested from Saint Francis Kitchen Garden, Glendenning and put to good use to make a fresh Christmas Wreath ... very creative and effective!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Schoolyard enhanced learning - ebook

Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning shows how the school grounds – regardless of whether your school is in an urban, suburban, or rural setting – can become an enriching extension of the classroom.
In this comprehensive handbook, Herb Broda blends theory and practice, providing readers with practical suggestions and teacher-tested activities for using the most powerful audio-visual tool available – the outdoors.
At a time when children’s natural curiosity about the outdoors is eclipsed by the demands of busy schedules and the ever-present glow of video screens, schools may be the only place where they are encouraged to interact with nature. Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning can help teachers unlock the powerful learning experiences that exist just beyond the classroom door.

This book is available to CEO Parramatta staff as an ebook from Staffnet - Resources - Ebook library. Click on the title here to access the book: Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning. (You will be directed to Staffnet first to login.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jai and Kassy's Journey at Nano Cottage

Two students graduated from the Nano Cottage Kitchen Garden Program on Wednesday 8 December at the annual Christmas party. Jai and Kassy received the traditional Graduation Certificate and a DVD of their time on the program over the last few years. The DVD was a gift from Imelda (St Michael's parish volunteer) who has attended the Language Group sessions each Wednesday and assisted with everything from, watering, weeding, and harvesting to pumpkin carving! Kassy's mother provided delicious cup cakes, Jai's mother gave the students sherbert sticks and Miss Clare ensured there were plenty of Christmas treats to go around! Mrs Boyer (Learning Support Teacher at St Michael's) called by to congratulate Jai and Kassy and to join in the fun!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Real Kids, Real Food - Stephanie Alexander and students from the Kitchen Garden Foundation

Hot off the press! The perfect gift!
Share this with your friends and support the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation!
'Real kids, Real food with Stephanie Alexander' DVD - available now!
We're making it easier to cook tasty, seasonal meals for and with your family with the release of a the DVD Real kids, Real food with Stephanie Alexander.
A must for the Christmas wish-list, the DVD is a charitable collaboration between the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and quality kitchenware cookware specialist retailer, Matchbox. The DVD stars Stephanie and children from the Kitchen Garden Program.
Stephanie and the kitchen garden kids show you how to prepare five mouth-watering dishes in step-by-step detail. Every aspect is covered, from harvesting fresh produce from the garden to using kitchen equipment - such as sharp knives - safely.
The DVD comes with a booklet which includes full recipes and further tips for making tasty, fresh food, including pasta and gnocchi from scratch.
"My happiest childhood memory is learning how to cook delicious meals by my mother's side and sharing them with family and friends. This DVD shows my passion for encouraging young people to cook and have fun in the kitchen. Cooking with children at home can be an incredibly rewarding experience. It may just change your life forever!" says Stephanie.
An inspiring gift for children and parents this festive season, proceeds from the sale of the DVD will support the thousands of children across Australia currently participating in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program.
The DVD, including recipe booklet, retails for $19.95 from the Matchbox and Kitchen Garden Foundation websites, and is available exclusively from Matchbox stores for $14.95 with any purchase for a limited time.
Get a head-start on your Christmas shopping and buy your copy from our Shop now!
The Kitchen Garden Team
Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation
T 03 8415 1993   F 03 8625 0054

Friday, November 26, 2010

A unit of work on Gardens and Gardening

Volume 21, Issue 3, August 2011, of The Literature Base is worth a look! Half the journal is given over to Gardens & Gardening - a unit of work by Kevin Steinberger.
Gardens as Setting, Gardens in Fantasy, The Science of Gardens, Gardens in Other Cultures and Cross-Curriculum Activities. There is a selection of Gardening-Themed Books and a Reference list of books and websites. The Learning Exchange has a copy of this issue and some schools already subscribe to the journal.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Anna and the Sheep

Anna and the Sheep

On an extremely cold windy day in October 2008, Anna who was in Kindergarten, chose to leave the warmth of Nano Cottage where the Language Group students were working and ventured out to see the sheep, in the adjoining paddock at Nagle College farm.The sheep usually run off when the students come near but this one particular, recently shorn sheep, was drawn to Anna's gentle and kind manner. Anna was oblivious to being filmed and it seemed a shame to interrupt the special moment, but as it was freezing cold, she was encouraged inside, much to the disappointment of Anna and the sheep!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Planting trees at St Michael's Primary Blacktown South

Planting 200 trees and shrubs at St Michael’s Primary Blacktown South with Greening Australia

David Warren – Technical Specialist – Seed from Greening Australia visited St Michael’s on 25 August to complete Part 2 of a project which began on 21 July with a visit and barbeque to Ropes Creek Nursery at Oxley Park. St Michael’s was one of five schools chosen to participate in the opportunity and receive the 200 plus plants.

Students from the Nano Cottage Language Groups along with 3G – Miss Charlotte Gourlie’s class and some Year 6 volunteers, enthusiastically found the holes which David had dug with the auger, planted trees and shrubs, placed cardboard protection at the base of the plants and placed guards around them.

Now the fun part of watering them regularly has begun, using watering cans and a very long hose! This project enables students to improve their practical language skills, through following instructions and problem solving. Oral language skills which enhance memory and vocabulary are also developed in a natural setting and all the while the school is being beautified! As Opia expressed, “I love helping to save the environment!”

Charlotte Goulie – 3G & Clare Maloney: Itinerant Teacher – Communication



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to Succeed with ... Education for Sustainability-little Books of Big Ideas

This book focuses on building capacity within the school community to work, live and learn together to create a sustainable future. The book provides school communities with a framework to succeed in implementing education for sustainability.

Care for Creation-Ilia Delio, o.s.f Keith Douglass Warner, o.f.m. Pamela Wood

"In this thoughtful book and inspiring book the authors provide a great service to the earth and all its inhabitants. They show how a contemporary Franciscan spirituality of creation, following the footprints of Jesus with the guidance of St Francis of Assisi, can help renew the face of the earth in our time" John F. Haught, PH.D., senior fellow,science and religion, Woodstock Theological Center

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Last Tree in the City - Peter Carnavas

This is the story of a boy who lives in the city. Edward's city is a place of concrete and cars, a world without colour, so every day he visits the last tree in the city and forgets the dull world around him.Then one day the tree is gone. Edward thinks of a clever way to revive his fallen tree, inspiring the entire city to follow his lead and understand that life is better with trees!

Last Child in the Woods - Richard Louv

This book shows how children have become increasingly alienated from nature, why this matters and how we can make a difference. It also offers practical advice on how to help children to enjoy the natural world -starting in parks, gardens, homes and schools!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nano Chefs celebrate Halloween!

The Nano Chefs from the NCKG language groups, celebrated Halloween early in Nagle College Junior Kitchen by making Carrot Pasta and Jack-O-Lanterns with the help of volunteers. Students followed the 7 steps necessary to create the lanterns and read the ingredients and method needed to make the pasta. A party like atmosphere ensured as students enjoyed the food and the lights were turned out as the lanterns were lit!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

St Pat's Kitchen Garden

St Pat's Kitchen Garden is flourishing with recent rain .... tomatoes, strawberries, celery and parsley have all had a growth spurt and students have even discovered a baby pumpkin, which appears to have come from nowhere ..... maybe a left-over from Halloween!

St Francis Kitchen Garden

Six new garden beds have been constructed at the rear of the new hall at St Francis of Assisi Primary Glendenning. Students have helped to spread composted soil in the beds, a result of collecting scraps from "Fruit Break", which happens each day at 10am. Worm farms are also producing juice which is being used to nourish the original Kitchen Garden!

Nano's Nature Nurturers

Nano’s Nature Nurturers
Meeting held at Nano Cottage - St Michael’s Primary Blacktown South
                                         1 November 2010  

Present:       Charlotte Gourlie, Sandra Russo, Gai Clark, Michael Siciliano:            St Michael’s      
                   Carol Hawkes:       St Patrick’s Primary Blacktown  
                    Zhan Patterson:     Sustainable Resources Engagement Officer - BCC
                    Clare Maloney:      Itinerant Teacher: Communication – CEO
                        Peter Blanch:         Science Teacher: Oakhill College, Castle Hill
Apologies:    John Laffan, Paula Murphy: St Michael’s          
Reflection   The DaffodilsWilliam Wordsworth

  1. Planting of trees and grasses was successfully carried out on 25 August. Students recently observed the progress of the plantings and at least 85% are doing well!

  1. Charlotte reported that potato bags (see instructions); netting and packets of seeds were received as a result of the McCain’s Veggie Patch promotion. Gloves from the Telegraph give away, will also be used by NCKG students … well done Charlotte!

  1. Sandra continues to encourage all students to have name labels on hats and jackets to minimise wastage of students’ uniforms and to save money for parents … Keep up the challenge Sandra!

  1. “Green Zone” has become a regular in the school newsletter … Thank you Sandra and best wishes! A new contributer will be needed to replace Sandra in 2011?
  2. Waste Free Wednesday was again discussed … suggestions that it commence with primary students only and all other students encouraged to bring their lunch in “Nudie” containers or something similar, which makes cling wrap unnecessary. A “No Rubbish Day” was also discussed …. On this day all bins would be removed from the playground and all rubbish taken home. Parents would need to be informed in advance.

  1. Zhan is able to give session on Waste Management, to nominated grades, in December …. Charlotte to organise dates. Thank you Zhan!

  1. Charlotte will represent St Michael’s at the Parramatta Learning Community for Sustainability meeting, to be held at St Bernadette’s Lalor Park on Wednesday 24 November. Kevin Mills (principal) will represent St Patrick’s Blacktown and Clare will represent CEO.

  1. Charlotte and Clare are preparing an application for a Student Sustainability Leadership grant, on offer from Westpac Junior Landcare. This will involve Years Five and Six students and needs to be completed by 10 December 2010. John is supporting this project and Zhan hopes to be able to endorse it. A “One World Garden” concept has been floated which would involve all families contributing a brick, to build a garden bed in the vicinity of the new Learning Centre. Planting may include native/edible species, from diverse cultural backgrounds …. Watch this space!

  1. Zhan shared the following names as reference for “Deep Ecology”. Google: John Seed, Joanna Macy and Arne Naess – known as the father of Deep Ecology. Worth a look … thank you Zhan!

  1. Peter’s talk about Oakhill College was both informative and inspiring. He spoke of the steps taken to declare the college, Carbon Neutral and the ongoing challenge to reach Carbon Sustainability! Small steps include:
       turning off lights and computer monitors
        recycling paper and anything with a recycling symbol
        researching the story of rubbish
        joining the Sustainable Schools Network (Charlotte will revisit)
        encouraging the school leadership team, students and parents to come on board
        embedding a “Care for the Environment” into four levels of school life: Faith, Service Sport and Academia
        introducing all staff to“On Holy Ground” see
        keeping “All things Green” on the agenda, e.g. Green Awards at assemblies, posters around the school, mention at staff meetings, etc.

            Peter may be available to speak at staff meetings in 2011, if requested!

          Next Meeting: 3.15pm Thursday 3 March -Term 1 at NCKG
                                        ALL WELCOME

                       Old Indian saying: “Better to know one mountain, than climbed many”

NNN meeting 1/11/10          

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Parramatta Learning Community for Sustainability meeting - 2

On a sparkling spring day on 8 September representatives from thirteen schools met in the new school hall, at St Francis of Assisi Primary Glendenning for the second LCfS meeting. Cheryl Boyle (Learning Support Teacher) invited the visitors to see the Kitchen Garden and told the story of how, “From Little Things Big Things Grow”
A delicious morning tea was prepared by the students with the help of the Learning Support team. “Schoolmade” lemonade with mint leaf ice blocks, strawberries dipped in chocolate, mini quiches with parsley and pumpkin soup, were among the specialties on offer. These were labeled with the core ingredients which students had used from the Kitchen Garden.
Guest speakers were Jacqueline Remond, National Director of Catholic Earthcare Australia and Zhan Patterson, Sustainable Resources Engagement Officer - Blacktown City Council. Jacqui began formation work for ASSISI (A Strategic Systems based Integrated Sustainability Initiative) by presenting Module 1: Awakening, which asks the question: “What is your relationship with God’s Creation?”
Zhan presented a brief overview of Sustainability Education and posed the question: “What does this mean for educators?” Each school was given the opportunity to share what is happening at their school and topics ranged from Kitchen Gardens (focusing on a Naturalistic Approach to Language) to Waste Free Wednesdays, to plans for Wetlands and Olive Groves!
Resources, helpful websites and photos provided inspiration for how to start when making an “All Things Green” school.
The next meeting will be held at St Bernadette’s Primary Lalor Park on Wednesday 24 November, with morning tea being served at 11am, followed by the meeting, 11.30 – 1.30pm …… all welcome! Jacqui and Zhan will again be presenting …. for more information please contact Clare Maloney – Itinerant Teacher: Communication, on 0410 220 245 or email


Monday, October 18, 2010

Parramatta Learning Community for Sustainability meeting - 1

Jacqueline Remond, National Director of Catholic Earthcare Australia, visits Nano Cottage Kitchen Garden, at St Michael’s Primary Blacktown 

On Wednesday 28 April a gathering of Principals and Assistant Principals met at Nano Cottage Kitchen Garden to hear Jacqui speak about ASSISI – A Strategic Systems-based Sustainability Initiative.

The participants were welcomed to the Cottage by the Language Group students and shown around the Kitchen Garden. Those present were:

Michael Scilliano:  Acting Principal, St Michael’s Blacktown South
Robert Muscat:     Assistant Principal, Nagle College Blacktown
Phillip Mahony:     Principal, St Francis of Assisi Glendenning
Kevin Mills:          Principal, St Patrick’s Blacktown
Cheryl Walsh:       Principal, St Bernadette’s Lalor Park
Richard Grech:     Assistant Principal, Delany College Granville
Gary Borg:            Principal, Mother Teresa Westmead
Jane Misek:          Acting Principal, Greystanes

The group decided to meet again as “Parramatta Learning Community for Sustainability” on Wednesday 8 September at 11.30am, at St Francis of Assisi, Glendenning to continue the conversation with Jacqui. This group is open to all interested schools looking to “do things differently” as regards protecting the environment.

Check out for further information re ASSISI

For further information re Kitchen Gardens in schools please contact Clare Maloney via email

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Opening of Nano Cottage Kitchen Garden

On Wednesday 11 November 2009, at 11.11am the school community of St Michael’s Primary, Blacktown South held a Blessing and Opening Ceremony to officially open the new Nano Cottage Kitchen Garden.

St Michael’s Primary and Nagle College are located on the same site so they share the Nano Cottage Garden, which is named after Nano Nagle, the founder of the Presentation Sisters who established Nagle College.

Nano Cottage was established in 2002 as a venue in which to conduct Nano Cottage Language Groups, a collaborative project of local primary and secondary school communities, St Michael’s Parish and the Catholic Education Office, Parramatta. The cottage is a place where students with language learning needs can stimulate and enhance their oral language skills in a naturalistic environment.

In the relaxed informal setting of the garden the students, ranging in age from Kindergarten to Year 6, feel more comfortable talking to each other and it encourages spontaneous interaction between them.
Clare Maloney, Itinerant Teacher: Communication, from the Catholic Education Office said the garden had already proven to be a significant tool in developing the talking and listening skills of students with oral language needs.

‘The students have become vigilant gardeners! They water, weed and harvest and they know how to save dry seeds from peas, marigolds and sunflowers and exclaim over sprouting garlic cloves, onions and potatoes,’ said Clare.
‘It is a joy to watch these students shine as they participate in hands on activities as Nano ‘master chefs’ and ‘little diggers’ in the kitchen garden.

The garden is completely organic, so raw untreated materials were sourced and a compost bin is used to dispose of foods scraps from the canteen. The mulch is of the anti termite, anti rot and soft fall variety, so it is suitable for the students to work and play in.
The garden beds have been filled using a ‘no dig’ approach. Newspaper was laid down by the students, followed by lucerne hay then soil and sugar cane mulch. A feature in the centre of the garden is a cross made from pavers to recognise the Catholic faith and an olive tree to symbolise hope (as it has survived many ‘sheep munches’).

The creation of the garden was a combined effort from students and staff at St Michael’s and Nagle College as well as members of the local community. Blacktown City Council contributed $750 in funding as part of a kitchen garden trial project under the Eco Active Schools Program. Bunnings, Blacktown also contributed by donating materials such as bamboo stakes, a compost bin, seed raising mix, potting mix, organic mulch and a variety of seeds. Plants and seedlings were donated by the parents of the Nano Cottage Language Groups, and from teachers at nearby St Francis of Assisi Primary, Glendenning and St Patrick’s Primary, Blacktown.

The designated area was cleared by volunteers from the local community and Technology and Applied Sciences students from Patrician Brothers’ College constructed the 1.5m square timber flowerbeds. Years 3, 4 and 6 students sourced pictures to use as labels and painted colourful flowers and symbols on the sides of the garden beds.

Students from the Nano Cottage Language Groups will continue to use the garden to harvest, prepare and share fresh food and other students will participate in garden activities which are relevant to the curriculum.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Outdoor classrooms

                                    Outdoor Classrooms
                                 a handbook for school gardens

This book is a reminder of our duty of care for the environment which is not new, but perhaps has become a little lost in a jam packed curriculum.
This a must for any school hoping to have a garden in a simple or extravagant way, for it outlines the challenges, plans, personnel and philosophy, necessary to begin.
It stresses the importance of Student Directed Learning and Teaching” and the ease of which “all things natural “can be integrated into the curriculum, rather than just be an “add on”.
The emphasis is on learnscapes, where students are given opportunities to discover, wonder, explore and investigate their environment in practical, hands on, fun and meaningful ways!
The lists are comprehensive, the strategies practical, the advice realistic and the sketches helpful, as well as being delightful. Imagine every school with a “Rainbow or Secret Garden”; what student or teacher would not relish having one in their school!

Clare Maloney
Itinerant Teacher: Communication
June 2010