How does our garden grow? With a grant!

November 22, 2017

Councillor Neil Pankhurst, Nestle representative Naomi Sucich and Kyabram P-12's Matt McCready in the Nestle Agriculture and Sustainability Garden at the P-12 College.

STUDENTS at Kyabram P-12 College aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

The Kyabram P-12 College agriculture centre has flourished thanks to funding from Nestle.

As part of their studies, students at the college are learning about agriculture and sustainability in a hands-on environment.

The Nestle Agriculture and Sustainability Centre began construction in 2014 and while the major works have finished there are still some grand plans in the pipeline.

Agriculture and horticulture teacher Matt McCready said the garden was designed by the students for the students.

‘‘This project started in 2014 when we received a grant from Nestle, with that we built a shed which is used as a learning space,” Mr McCready said.

“We then had the students to come up with designs for the layout of the garden to make it their project.

“They decided where everything went, from the raised garden beds to the animals and the small orchard which is on its way.

“Students were also responsible for planning what to grow in the garden, they had a say in the soil acidity and the decision to grow different plants.”

To make full use of the grant, the school recycled as many materials as possible.

“We were fortunate enough to be able to recycle things like chairs, tables and other classroom equipment,” Mr McCready said.

“Those items can take a fair bit out of a budget so being able to save the money and re-use items where we could was a big part of the program.”

The garden provides a teaching space, with a whiteboard and a projector for students to learn with, as well as hydroponic and soil-based gardens.

Nestle representative Naomi Sucich said the grant program is all about the community.

‘‘Every year $25,000 of funding is made available by every Nestle factory to support projects which strengthen connections with the community, it’s important to support the community you live and work in,” Ms Sucich said.

“Many of the projects we fund are centred on skills and future employability. This allows the students to learn skills in a real-world environment which they can put to use after they graduate.

Campaspe Shire councillor Neil Pankhurst said the students now have access to some of the best facilities to hone their practical skills.

“The facilities here mean the students get the chance to see how things grow and live, they don’t just read about it but they go and do it,” Mr Pankhurst said.

“Farming is a job which isn’t just your usual nine to five workday and the students will see that as this gives them extra commitments on top of their schoolwork.

“The garden isn’t something which will stop growing during holidays, it gives the kids added responsibility.”

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