The spirit of the garden came alive this week when the students spent time in the Secret Garden harvesting our amazing abundance of pumpkins, zucchini, and beans. As we dug out the vines, and cut them ready for composting, it was surprising to uncover more and more pumpkins hiding beneath the leaves. Then another discovery became a gift of nature in the form of dried climbing bean pods. At this point, the students had worked hard at finishing their jobs, and were feeling a little tired and restless. Nature choreographed it beautifully to change the mood in an instant. What a beautiful scene to witness the students easily move to sit in a circle on the grass with the bean pods in hand, collecting the seeds and placing them in the middle. It was reminiscent of tribal life from around the world and highlighted the communal nature of the garden. The Secret Garden beds have now been prepared with cow manure and Green Manure seeds were sown made up of a diverse mix of clover seeds which will help put important nutrients back into the soil. We are looking forward to planting a variety of Autumn vegetables.

What a dynamic space it’s been in Brigid’s Garden Program this term. Chris Smith has joined us on Wednesdays this year in a support role bringing skills and experience in gardening. The garden program students have warmly welcomed our two Year 7 students, Brielle and Maddy. So much happened in Brigid’s Garden and the Secret Garden over the summer and we are grateful to our volunteer staff who came to water the garden during the Christmas break. One student commented, “it’s like a forest here,” when she saw shoulder height White Cosmos, Straw Flowers and vegetable vines growing. It has been a delight to return to a bumper crop of pumpkin varieties, spaghetti squash, zucchinis and climbing beans.

For the first time we planted native Murnong (Yam Daisy) which has been growing well and we are excited to harvest, cook and taste them. The kiwi fruit vine needed serious pruning and already has an abundant crop of fruit nearly ready for picking. There was a lovely harvest of apples from our diverse variety of apple trees. We cooked Sweet Muffins – Apple, Cinnamon and Sultana and Savoury Muffins – Zucchini, Carrot and Cheese were made with freshly picked zucchini. We discovered the amazing tastes of Spaghetti Squash from our first harvest which is absolutely delicious when roasted. The students each helped choose a name for the raised garden beds so that we can create a rotating crop garden in that space. We will paint signs for each bed named Bunjil, Maggie Magpie, Ladybug, Buttercup Butterfly, and Rose. Two of our senior students, Izzy and Ruby, stepped into the role as exceptional guides, giving a tour of Brigid’s Garden and the wider school for potential LSO staff interviewees.

As we transition into Autumn, tidying up the garden has kept us busy with weeding and maintaining watering on some of those sunnier days. Another gift of the garden is the opportunity for students to taste test some our produce. It is heart-warming, watching students try foods they have never tasted before. A sample so far has included tomatoes, beans, plums, different types of apples, kiwi fruit and many more. Learning about the life cycle of plants is witnessed through the growth from seed to produce and for growing in the garden, seed saving is an important part of that process. We have saved seeds from the Spaghetti Squash, zucchini, and beans so watch out for future plans of a seed stall.

Lisa Singline – Brigid’s Garden Program