Tag Archives: worm farm

Learning Outside Boosts Learning Within

 Step Outside and Enhance Your Learning

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Walking and being outdoor changes the brain. Students can become more creative, more observant and less stressed. There are many benefits for the students and the educators to step outside.

Sadly, teachers have a lot of administrative pressures. They have to ensure that they address the many areas of the curriculum. We can support teachers by offering them studies that explain which part of the curriculum the outdoor activities meet. Being outdoors boosts our physical and mental health.

Health, Movement & Exploration

Connecting children with nature reduces more harmonytheir stress. It also increases the chance of nature being less stressed by human impact. Connections with nature enable a child to understand how nature works and builds empathy for others and their respect for the natural environment on which their lives depend.

Nature-based activities can enrich the learning program. We can even go one step further and design an amazing garden class-room.

Nature-based Games & Activities

Rose and the big leafNature-based games are as old as …?

The process of re-discovering and developing nature-based games can be a lesson in history and creativity. What did children play with before plastic toys became abundant? This is a wonderful opportunity to build imagination. Encourage the children be part of this re-discovery.

unusual-foodsActivities include weather observations, seed-raising, ‘mini-beasts’ or ‘micro-creature’ measurements and mapping of their web-of-life, drawing and classification (worms, insects). Science experiments about pH, cooking and cultural discussions about food, hygiene and disease, microscopic adventures about fungi and bacteria, research into origins of medicinal plants and much more.

In the garden children can use tall sticks (ie. banana stems, sugarcane, sunflowers, artichokes, sage) as structural material to build tipis, towers or sculptures. The garden classroom can be a great resource for learning about aboriginal houses or traditional home structures, building and shelters. edible-basketWhether you build a full-size replica or models, the children learn how to use genuine natural resources like poles and natural rope.

Weaving with edible plant material (especially from strong vines like kiwi-fruit and passion-fruit) is a meditative and mathematical activity.  Food plants provide healthy, low allergy weaving and building materials.

What is brown and sticky? A stick of course!

Storytelling and Story writing

The range of light levels within a  garden allows children to find their ideal light level to suit their reading, writing and working. Storytelling in an open space can be difficult in the city if there is a lot of environment noise, or it can become a theatrical challenge. The garden classroom can designed to amplify the production. Outdoors, the story-teller has an excuse to dramatise the text in order to be heard.

The garden classroom is a fresh and ever-evolving space full of material for story writing. Children can explore new ways to tell a story or better grasp old poetry, the importance of traditional story-telling, the tribal ‘sense of place’, the dreamtime and ancient maps.

But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head, 
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer, 
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed, 
While the others stood and watched in very fear. [Banjo Paterson]

How Can We Design a Garden-Classroom

Apply Fundamental Permaculture Design Principles

bumble_bee_yellow_flowerPermaculture principles are a valuable tool to apply to learning and can guide our design of a productive learning space. There are various permaculture principles but here we can examine two of the fundamental permaculture principles:

1. Every element provides many functions
2. Every function is met by many elements.

For example:  a simple letter-box/mail-box is an element. It collects the mail, displays a house number, is a guidepost in heavy weather. It can also support a vine or can be, albeit unwittingly, an insect or arachnid  home. One of these  functions (the less desirable one) of ‘housing insects’ can be supported by various other elements i.e. hollow trees, bee boxes or the neighbours letter-boxes :>

1. Every Element provides many Functions

2. Every Function is met by many Elements

Permaculture Principles in the Learning Space:

  1. goddess-treeEvery Element in the learning space
    provides many Functions

    One of the elements in an outdoor space is a shade-tree. This shade tree can provide many other functions: wind and rain protection, leaf litter for mulch, poles, habitat for wildlife, a structure to hang a swing or decorative artworks, a play space.

  2. Etipi with edible vinesvery Function in the learning space met by many Elements.

    The function –  shade, can be  supported by many  other elements. We can use deciduous trees, domes, tipis frames with woven vines , suspended shade material (recycled sheets can be used), sun hats and/or umbrellas.  Children may enjoy painting and erecting old sheets or drop-cloths as an art project to add colour to the space. Poles can be gathered from fallen or pruned branches of nearby trees. Using recycled materials and resources from nature builds empowerment and problem solving.

have a giving spiritIdeally, the process of design consults the school staff, the community and the children. The design needs to be able to adapt to the changing community needs. Consulting the stakeholders helps us define the elements desired. Work with the shape of the land and do a full permaculture design with the confidence of knowing that compost resources will be abundant if the children deposit their food scraps and the garden. Maintenance workers can provide some weaving material as well as mulching material such as grass clippings.

Permaculture design for community garden

Engaging Community

pride in growing food and sharingThe school garden may be one the few green spaces in a city. Many of the residents near the school welcome the opportunity to participate in growing food, creating a beautiful gardens with the children and increasing habitat for birds and native bees.

Encourage the community to find ways to safely integrate adult participation. Perhaps the adults are active in a separate area at a separate time to the children. Hopefully there will be times when the whole community can come together to plant trees or tend the garden or celebrate the harvest.

“Now, you’re talking!”

coffee tree flowersThere are some food plants that get adults truly motivated. These include such as coffee bean and green-tea bushes, native foods (bush tucker and survival foods), culinary flowers and spices. If you are lucky to have immigrants living in your area, invite them to share their stories about food and spices and how it is traditionally grown and used.

What is brown and sticky? A stick of course!

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
— Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

 

 

 

 

My Glamorous Worm Farm

Worm Power

Cuban potting mix made with worm-farm castings
Cubans using worm-farm castings

In an ideal environment, worms can consume 4 times their own weight in food per day. Compost worms and soil worms are both powerful assets in your permaculture lifestyle. Soil worms will improve your intensive garden beds. Compost worms will speed up the recycling of food waste and many weeds.  Our most invasive weeds e.g. Anredera cordifolia are best treated in liquid manure barrels when the poultry can’t eat it all.

Compost Worms Love Leftovers

WormPowerTinTowersFeb2014-1024x633Compost worms probably originated in the deep litter of leafy forests. They love climbing into decomposing matter. They breed amorously in the dark, laying their eggs on fibrous materials (we can use recycled hessian coffee grinds). If you have coffee grinds, this is one food-type that the worms adore and the chickens should probably not eat.

Big, Bold and Beautiful Worm Farms

Domestic worm-farms don’t have to look ugly. The worms can dwell quietly inside a beautiful pot plant or a tower of tins with your favourite herbs on top.

One of our inventive permaculture course graduates, Robyn Crosland, integrated her worm-farms with herb pots and liquid manure. She uses a small tower of recycled stack-able restaurant vegetable oil drums.  Chris Nathaniel, has developed a carbon fertiliser made primarily from left-over vegetable oil.  So, a little bit of left over vegetable oil also adds power.

Robyn inserts a simple ball-tap at the base of the liquid manure tin so she can harvest the fertiliser and use it to feed the top plants but you can choose to just punch a hole and let it flow out.

By integrating the waste liquid with liquid manure section we get more fertilizer which we can then feed to the plants at the top to create a closed loop, richly productive system.

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The worm tower could also be used as the body of a scarecrow! If you develop a beautiful worm-farm, let us know! You can also integrate your worm-farm with other permaculture elements. turn your worm-farm into a scarecrow!

Learn more about permaculture with us with our permaculture design course.

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Our Chickens, Weeds, Worms Tower System

This Chicken Tower system was invented by April Sampson-Kelly in 1996. She has reillustrated it this week for our course notes. The Chickens have garden weeds for picking at, and nesting in, their manure and scratchings feed the Worms in the bottom drawer of the Tower. Rainwater is also collected, fed to the chickens and worms and recaptured in a tank for the garden.  Another smaller worm farm tower was  invented by one our graduates.

Chickens, Weeds, Worms Tower

Worm Power Tin Towers

Our of our graduates Robyn Crosland developed a system she calls her ‘Tin Towers’. She has 3 old cooking oil tins stacked neatly on top of one another. each has holes in the base except the bottom on.  They all have the top cut out.  The top tin grows well nourished herbs and annuals, the next tin down is the worm farm and the next one down is liquid manure made from weeds and the bottom one has a tap.  It is all elevated to the tap can be accessed and the fertiliser that comes out is put back into the the top garden.

Robyn Crosland made her TIN TOWERS out of recycled restaurant cooking oil tins. The top pot is sitting in a worm farm, which is on top of a tin with liquid manure in it and there is a tap so you can take the fertile waters back up to water the plant on top. This is a very healthy crop of basil for Autumn! The closed loop solves the problem of taking nutrients to the plants from the worm farm. We think its a great DIY worm farm. See our fence made of towers.