Bush food gardens for schools and early learning centres
2016 – 2018 || Edible Eden Design has installed several bush food gardens (also referred to as bush tucker or native food gardens – see our Bush Food Gardening page) at schools and early learning centres. Valued for both their environmental contribution and as a teaching and learning resource, bush food gardens have become increasingly popular in recent years.
For the following gardens, we selected and planted a variety of edible and useful native plants, and installed our own range of signage. The projects ranged from integrating bush food plants into existing gardens at Yarralea Early Learning Centre in Yarraville, to a 100 m long bush food trail at Aquinas College in Ringwood, where the plants are used in classroom learning and in the school kitchen. We worked with the children and teachers on planting days, supplying tools and expertise. The children we worked with ranged from pre-school to high school students, all with their own approach to the experience of gardening. The plants were chosen from our longtime favourites, some of which are featured below.
Lake Park Kindergarten, Coburg North
Lake Park Kindergarten is hidden in the curves of the Merri Creek and its beautiful natural environment. In 2018, they received a Moreland Council Community Grant for their project Healthy Habitats, Healthy Communities. The project aims to enhance the biodiversity, also the natural and visual character of the centre environment; promote public awareness and understanding of Aboriginal cultural heritage in the Merri Creek catchment and incorporate indigenous foods into the existing kitchen garden program. For this project the centre worked in partnership with Edible Eden Design and the Little Sprouts Program. Plants used for this project included edibles such apple berries, Billardiera scandens, and sensory plants such as lemon tea tree, Leptospermum petersonii (below left) and native thyme Prostanthera rotundifolia (top right). Photos courtesy of Little Sprouts program are left and bottom right.
Yarralea Early Learning Centre, Alphington
Text about Yarralea is coming soon…
Aquinas College, Ringwood
More details about Aquinas College in Ringwood are coming soon…
Plants with many uses
Plants in school gardens need to be hardy as well as having multiple uses. Our favourites for these types of projects are indigenous plants such as mat rush Lomandra longifolia for weaving; the beautifully scented strawberry gum Eucalyptus olida for crushing and smelling the leaves as well as providing shade; edible flowers such as native violet Viola hederacea and apple berry Billardiera scandens for fruit production.
Karen’s top six bush food plants for school gardens.
Here is a selection of some tried and tested native food plants for using in school gardens, as prepared by Karen for the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation’s professional development program.
Selected bushfood plants are available from Karen’s plant nursery
Apple berry, Billardiera scandens and Billardiera cymosa, are sprawling groundcovers or light climbers. They flower in spring and produce long green fruits that blush purple and become soft in late summer. Like many native fruits, they fall to the ground when ripe, and taste like cooked apple. Plants are hardy and drought tolerant, although will fruit better if given regular watering. Plants grow in full sun or light shade.
Below left to right are coastal wattle Acacia sophorae which has edible seeds; cinnamon myrtle Backhousia myrtifolia which has edible leaves; coastal raspberry Carpobrotus rossii with edible fruits forming and native violet Viola hederacea and its edible flowers.
Our beautiful educational signs are available to order in either long lasting and recyclable powder-coated steel, or in economical corflute. Examples can be seen here.
Our bush food garden sign has been hand drawn for us, and is available in A3 or A4.
Our plant identification signs are available in B5 (25 x 17.6 cm), and feature a colour photograph, the botanical name, common name, how to grow and how to use the plant, as well as some simple graphics for quick information.
Contact us to discuss your needs.