Updated: May 3
New School has a Landcare program that aims to educate children through practical experience, giving them an understanding that as human beings, we draw our daily sustenance from the earth, and therefore have some responsibilities toward the earth both for our sake and for the well-being of others.
Wonder awakes responsibility, which ripens into love for the world around us. Practical landcare skills strengthen our ability to make a positive difference and we believe this is of the utmost importance at a time when it is easy to feel helpless in the face of the ecological challenges we face.
Gardening has been a part of the Waldorf school curriculum since the very first Waldorf school in 1923. Our Landcare Lessons are about more than teaching gardening skills, through these lessons we aim to nurture a deeper appreciation for and awareness of the our relationship to the natural world. By caring for the garden, experiencing the growth of plants, and harvesting what they give us, the students develop a deeper consciousness and appreciation for the earth.
For the children it is also an opportunity to step out of fast-paced world within which we live, and to slow down and relax, taking the time to notice the details of nature and to use all their senses to experience the world more deeply. Children nowadays live in a society where so so much is available immediately and at click of a button. Gardening is a wonderful antidote to this immediate gratification that we have become so used to.
Our Landcare programme is in its infancy, but our hope is that its grows over time to offer children the whole experience of harvesting and swapping seeds, sowing seeds, caring for seedlings and eventually harvesting and using or consuming what they have harvested. Through the colder months we care for the wildlife on our site and prepare for the growing season ready for the great out breath when the light and sun returns.Through this process we hope to introduce the children to the principles of permaculture and organic and biodynamic growing.
Reducing Waste: We are also aiming to reduce waste on our site as much as we possibly can. Our older children take part in a waste audit to measure our success in this area. This includes looking at what we buy, what we repair and what we throwaway, but also making sure that we make the most of what nature offers us on our site. Over this last year we have built compost bins for our leaf mulch and our raw food-waste. This coming year we are hoping to raise the funds for a hot composter so that scraps from meals are composted, and the children can then use that compost to renew the topsoil of the gardens.
An Integrated Curriculum:
Landcare is woven within the curriculum in a variety of ways and this is something that we are continuing to explore and develop.
For the younger children nature is a key source of inspiration. From Kindergarten upwards, children spend time every day, rain or shine, outside playing, on nature walks, exploring and discovering. As they grow older the children continually use nature as a source for ideas, what we grow often becomes the material we use for craft activities and the outdoors become a classroom for scientific investigation.
We are currently building a herb spiral within which will give the children the opportunity to explore the medicinal qualities of herbs as well as how they can be used for cooking. We are also at the beginning stages of developing a dye garden. The children will use flowers from the dye garden to dye fabrics and yarn that will be used in handwork or in the classrooms.
Our beehives on our site will give the children the opportunity to learn about the science of pollination, the structure around colonies, environmental impact on bees as well as getting hands on experience in harvesting wax and honey. Through our Landcare Programme our children learn about science, sustainability, life cycles, balance, teamwork and patience. They learn how to be good stewards, responsible humans and develop a relationship with nature that will last throughout their life.
Environmental Awareness Teacher: Mr Reynolds has a background in Spiritual Ecology which is both an ancient and newly emerging field that brings together ecology and environmentalism with the awareness of nature as alive, as animate, and as sacred. It proposes that at this time of ecological and social unravelling, values have the potential to provide the foundation from which to respond and rebuild. Mr Reynolds is due to begin his Waldorf Teacher training in September.
Site Team Leader: Amy Poole is a trained Forest School Leader and is passionate about the environment and our site. Since joining our team, Amy has worked with parents and our volunteer team to develop a wildflower bank, our composting bins, rainwater harvesting and has installed lots of raised beds. It has been wonderful to see the impact of her work as she has moved from area to area, making it feel looked after and loved and inspirational to watch her plans unfold. Growing our Future: We are very lucky to have received funding from Canterbury Council to support the development of an intergenerational project that has enabled us to grow a team of volunteers (aged 50 years and over) who work with Amy on our site each week. They bring much needed support to our small team and have become an important part of our school community.