From Little Things

Author: Centroc User
Date: March 7, 2012
Category: Community Groups, Gardening & Composting, Schools, Sustainable Living

“Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand” Chinese Proverb

At Canowindra Preschool, children are involved in learning about sustainability as part of their everyday preschool experience. Whether it’s by recycling their lunch food scraps in the preschool worm farm or playing with the two preschool chickens who have free range around the vegetable patch and playground, this is an environment which is helping to grow responsible, environmentally aware citizens of the future.

Preschool Director Lana Brown describes it as a holistic approach to child care, and says learning to respect the environment is incorporated into all aspects of preschool life.

“We really make sustainable practises part of our daily routine,” says Lana. “This includes recycling, gardening, energy conservation, water conservation and purchasing sustainable, eco-friendly equipment wherever possible.”

To that end, the Canowindra Preschool has in place a specific Environmental Sustainability Policy, which provides a clear guide for staff and parents and aims to promote the children’s awareness of the environment through daily practices, resources and interactions.

“Netwaste came to help us promote National Recycling Week last year,” says Lana. “We will get them back soon to help us re-establish our worm farm, which suffered over the Christmas break!”

It is clear as soon as you enter the front gate of the Canowindra Preschool that the natural environment is an important part of its child-care philosophy. The garden is beautifully designed and meticulously maintained (mostly by parents and volunteers), featuring established garden beds and shade trees, turfed  play areas, an outdoor stage, a dry creek bed complete with sand, rocks and bridges, timber climbing equipment, a vegetable garden, worm farm and chook house.

A whimsical timber gateway leads to the raised vegetable gardens, chickens and worm farm.

Landscape Designer Sally Bourne designed the Canowindra Preschool garden eight years ago, and it was created in stages with the help of countless parents, staff and the support of local businesses.

“The design of landscape at Canowindra Preschool has been modeled on ‘natural play-space design’,” explains Sally. “The landscape is sustainable with consideration to the use of native and some endemic plant species, which are low maintenance, ‘water-wise’ and suited to the locality.”

Selectively placed hardy, drought tolerant and exotic deciduous trees provide solar access in winter and shade in summer to building and garden. The lawn area provides an open active play zone and the turf grass selected is hardy, shade and drought tolerant and is cut long to encourage a vigorous root system that sources for water in sub soil.

Recycled materials are an important feature of the garden design. Recycled railway sleepers provide a balancing walk for children to practice balance and co-ordination. The sleepers also act as attractive feature edges and add a charming rustic quality to the over-all design.

Locally sourced decomposed granite provides low maintenance surface areas instead of traditional concrete or pavers. Decorative pebbles and rocks in the dry creek bed, also locally sourced, provide another balancing walk for the children. Organic soft-fall surrounds the climbing play equipment rather than inorganic, unnatural mulch.

The garden is constantly evolving, and plans are in place to add a new fairy garden using recycled stone and tree logs for seats.

“It’s all been so good for the children,” says Lana. “Our kids are so conscious of the environment – they are the ones telling their parents to turn the taps off to save water!”

Sally Bourne Landscapes, Gooloogong, Ph 02-6344 8122

Canowindra Preschool Kindergarten Inc.  Ph: 02-6344 1261

One Response to “From Little Things”

  1. "this is fantastic, i hope that other pre schools are doing the same thing, and if not why not."

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