Growing words, beans and connections at STEPS Garden Milingimbi
To support literacy and numeracy learning, the SEE students of Milingimbi started a greenhouse garden at the STEPS grounds in March this year and it’s attracted a lot of positive attention.
The garden saw Federal Member for Lingiari the Hon Mr Warren Snowden visit and the Hon Lynne Walker member Nuhlunbuy also called in. Both expressed how impressed they were with the project.
Kath Boyne from Arnhem Land Progress Association (ALPA) CDP shows the greenhouse project as a first stop when people visit the island, including 12 people from the Federal Government’s Agriculture Team exploring the Top End in 2016 this year.
“The response was very positive with the Agriculture team spending about an hour in the greenhouse examining the students work and commenting on how remarkable it was,” John said.
The Greenhouse is inspiring everyone in the community and people are now growing things at home after seeing the students work.
As part of the process of forming the garden the students were reading about how plants are grown, writing about growing techniques and companion planting, following instructions on how to plant seeds, the depth to sow them, how far apart and more.
“Everyone made great improvements in reading, writing and numeracy without effort,” STEPS Trainer John Bateup said.
“Indeed, I think it was a pleasure for them to learn while achieving an impressive eco initiative.”
One of our keen Greenhouse students Jacob Balbunhamirri said the project is ‘myanmac’ (really good).
“We learn so much about plants and how to grow vegetables, it really is learning things I never knew about before,” he said.
“I am growing vegetables, this word which I can now spell correctly is really helping me with my learning more about my reading, writing and maths.”
As part of the first harvest the students and staff of STEPS have been enjoying their own rocket with curried egg sandwiches. They’ve also been growing beans, tomatoes, capsicums from plants and seeds.
“This project has been free from any issues and provides a great interactive, inspirational and satisfying learning environment,” John said.
“The students are beaming over this project and it just gets bigger and better.
“They have laboured for hours with pen and paper as well as rake and spade in making the greenhouse a huge success.
“We have now been so successful that the students have run out of room and needed to make a vegetable and flower garden outside the greenhouse.
“Pot plants are now hanging at the front of the ALPA CDP building and everyone is very proud of their work.”
The greenhouse uses 100mm PVC pipe with 75mm diameter holes for the plants at 300mm intervals with mulched soil as a growing medium and drip irrigation.
The elders are talking about reviving the ‘Grandfather and Grandmother Market Garden’ industries on Milingimbi of former times too.
Mr Keith Lapulung a Director of ALPA is very keen to see the project expand to a commercial enterprise. He is the Chairperson of the Gattjirrk Yolngu Aboriginal Corporation and they are to have meeting about the idea based on the inspiration of the Milingimbi Greenhouse.
Milingimbi Island is the largest island of the Crocodile Islands group off the coast of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
The Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.