A year on from Valla Community Preschool, a small beachside community on the mid north coast, winning an IEU Environment Grant, sponsored by Teachers Mutual Bank (TMB), IEU Organiser Steve Bergan visited the preschool to see how the grant had assisted their project in cultivating a sustainable community.
“From the moment I walked through the school gate you could see that this community based preschool was embracing environmental education. The preschool grounds were full of happy children getting their hands dirty in raised vegetable beds. I was met with the smiling faces of students, Indie-Rose, Jordyn, Tyler and Jett, all eager to show me everything that was going on outside the classroom and preschool fence.
“So with earthy hands I was led straight off to see the grounds adjoining the preschool which once was just a scrubby tree laced block. This block, with the assistance of the IEU grant funded by TMB, has been transformed into a community garden complete with raised garden beds, compost heaps, worm farms and the preschool children’s favourite hangout, the chicken shed. Centre Director Phillipa Maher said that each day the children undertake part of their educational activities in this community space.
“The students were keen to show me the compost heaps and worm farm which produced worm juice sold back to the community. Much of the compost came via the preschool or the local community dropping their organic waste here – this included the coffee shop waste from across the road. Profits from this worm juice is being used to either buy chicken feed or seedlings to sustain a very healthy well loved flock of chickens and vegie garden. The free range eggs produced were also sold to the local stores and community.
“After all this activity it was wash hands time and back into school to read the students stories and books that reflected what was going on what was once was an unused block of land.
“Afterwards I crossed the road and bought a coffee at the café knowing that all their organic waste would soon cross the road to be put to good use in the preschools community garden. Certainly the Valla Community Preschool project ‘cultivating a sustainable community’ is thriving with environmental, educational, economic and social benefits. It was great to see the IEU’s grant assist in this project.”