Learning to care
We are incredibly lucky that we have the most beautiful site in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, surrounded by a bio-dynamic farm. Children of all ages take part in caring for the site and learning how we can make the most of what nature provides.
Our Landcare lesson work through practical experience to develop a sense within each child, that as human beings, we draw our daily sustenance from the earth, and therefore have responsibilities toward the earth both for our sake and for the well-being of others.
As the children develop through Kindergarten and into the Lower and Middle School, wonder awakes responsibility, which ripens into love for the world around us. Practical gardening skills strengthen hope and our ability to make a positive difference. Whilst the development of knowledge and skills are important, the purpose of these lessons is not to train the children to become gardeners, but rather to nurture a deeper appreciation for and connection with the natural world.
The children take great pride in participating in the production of the food they eat. From seeds to seedlings and from planting to harvest, the students weed, water, and tend to vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruits. They enjoy harvesting and learning to prepare what they have grown – and then eating it! Coming full circle, scraps from meals are composted, and students use that compost to renew the topsoil of the gardens.
The experience of caring for the land develops positive habits for life:
the importance of inner strength and willpower that helps us get on with tasks not because we enjoy them, but because they are necessary.
recognition that for a healthy site we need healthy cooperation between each other, between ourselves and nature and between the different natural forces on the site itself - an awareness of the parts of life working together to form a whole.
The very best thing we can do to help ensure the survival of bees is to plant the flowers they need to nourish them. Children of all ages are helping to make our school a pollinator-friendly site, bursting with wildflowers and herbs: borage, goldenrod, poppies, lilac, lavender, mint, sunflowers and many more. These plants attract not only bees but also butterflies and other pollinators.
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.
Composting provides a responsible way to reuse waste and teaches children about the natural cycles of life, death, rebirth, and the recycling of nutrients in the ecosystem. It also reminds children that they are part of a bigger picture and that what they do really matters.
Through composting their waste, our children are taking a step to care for our environment and give back to the garden. Just as each microorganism deep within the compost pile individually is small, when all the organisms work together they are able to decompose large amounts of waste and contribute beautiful, rich soil to the garden.