I met with Clark McPhillipp, Associate Principal at St. Joseph’s Catholic School. Five years ago, four students and one teacher got together to do a sustainable garden project.
They contacted the Hamilton Permaculture Trust and took a field trip to the Sustainable Backyard garden. They then worked with Cheryl on the design and plans, which included worm farms made from old bathtubs, well-built raised beds, and chooks. The school scraps get fed to the worms and the extra worm pee is sold at Parish. The chooks are used in sexuality education. They learn about companion planting by putting plants together with their friends. “We do inquiry-based learning.”
The garden beds are extremely well-built and, Clark concedes, are made out of pressure treated lumber. He knows that is not the typical permaculture way, but opted for a durable solution that would last a long time using readily accessible materials. To protect against the leaching of the potential for toxins into the soil, they lined the beds with an impenetrable membrane before filling with soil and compost and planting.
The following year students put together the garden shed.
“This wasn’t done by adults. This was done by kids with overseeing,” says Clark.
The garden has been featured on garden tours and the students host regular visitors. Today involvement has grown to 30 kids and 3 teachers and is still growing strong in its 5th year.