Many schools have chosen to focus on creating food gardens as part of their commitment to the Eco-Schools process whilst others have planted wildlife-friendly indigenous gardens, hedges, traditional medicinal plants and colourful borders in the school grounds.
MMEP field workers encourage the use of Permaculture principles in the cultivation of food gardens. A Permaculture garden provides a means for learners to see ecology in action and encourages them to develop a more holistic view of and respect for nature. Through working in the gardens a better understanding is fostered of topics such as food and health, energy recycling, natural relationships, team work and planning, habitats, ecosystems, environmental ethics, natural elements and resource usage.
Learners and teachers show great enthusiasm as elements of fun, design, patterns and creativity is brought into the garden. A shift from the traditional old fashioned school view of ‘gardening as punishment’ to ‘gardening as a reward’ can involve metamorphic changes at a school from barren to fruitful from dull and dusty to colourful and diverse.
Another benefit is that schools are able to add wholesome, organically grown, nutritious food to the existing school feeding scheme. The MMEP would like to improve the sustainability and yield of school gardens, encourage the planting of healthy and heirloom food crops, promote the innovative use of available resources, and reduce reliance on outside assistance. Experience gained in school gardens encourages educators and learners to start their own gardens at home.