Throughout 2018, Students in Prep to Year 6 worked together to help create a Belonging Garden.The Belonging Garden was created to acknowledge Wurundjeri heritage and to have children work outside while developing their responsibility of being a steward of creation. Our focus in creating this space was centered not only on developing a beautiful learning space but to incorporate social and emotional learning and sense of belonging through our whole school Alannah and Madeline Foundation ‘Better Buddy’ program. Our school received a grant from Catholic Education Melbourne to fund this garden project. Over the year students collaborated with their buddies to work on the STREEAM (Science, Technology, Religious Education, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) aspects of the garden development.
Much of the project involved skills in designing. The Belonging Garden was designed by the students in Term 1. The most commonly seen features in the designs were water, a circle time area, plants and a cross. These features were incorporated into the final design. In Term 2 students designed and created tree guards from upcycled waste, assisted with landscaping and planting. The name of the garden and the type of indigenous plants were also decided on by students with a whole school survey. The students prepared the area for planting and they went out in mixed level groups and worked with parents and teachers with the necessary landscaping. This made the task fun and easy. Students even volunteered to do extra work in the garden.
As the winter rains had come, we needed to wait for Term 3 to finally plant our indigenous plants. 500 plants are now growing on the formally eroding embankment. St Gregory’s partnered with Landcare, Friends of Warrandyte State Park, Friends of Braeside Park and Marcellin College. It was important that we had these links with the wider community as they were able to support our students in their areas of expertise. In Term 4 the final touches of a bridge, waterway and cross were installed ready for our blessing and grand opening. The students were gathered in the hall and were able to view the ceremony via live streaming. The school community and special visitors viewed photos, video interviews and reflections in a mini movie that students had created.
All in all the project has assisted staff, students and parents to experience a sense of true belonging and the importance of sustaining our environment and relationships.
If you would like to visit our Belonging Garden, or to find out more about learning at St Gregory’s, please feel welcome to contact the school on 9848 4483 to arrange a tour.