Living Sustainably School Program at Shepherdson College, Elcho Island

Composting Competition – Autumn 2014

We asked people to send us their stories about Composting, Organic Recycling, Organic Gardening, Worm Farming or any other related Sustainability topic.

By Wendy Hughes
EALD/Garden Specialist
Shepherdson College

Shepherdson College is in the Galiwin’ku Community on Elcho Island, the traditional country of the Yolngu people. About 2000 people live in Galiwin’ku, with 200 more on 12 outstations on the island.

elcho island Living Sustainably School Program at Shepherdson College, Elcho Island

Being remote, Yolngu are reliant on food and resources being transported to the island, often from large distances and at inflated prices, making food security a very relevant issue for the students.

With their affinity to country, willingness to learn and love of sharing, gardening is a natural fit for Yolngu kids, who have readily embraced the Permaculture ethics of earth care, people care and fair share. They are also very resourceful and where products such as sugar cane mulch and cow manure cannot be sourced on the island, they have worked in teams to find solutions and alternatives such as growing mulching or green manure crops.

The students in Year 2-6 all work in the Garden, and through dedicated composting, soil improvement, worm farming, and mulching practices, have created an organic and bountiful food production area. There are 2 chickens producing eggs along with 15 younger hens almost ready to lay, (and a proud rooster), and all provide us with rich manure to speed along our compost and fertilize our Garden. Fruit and vegetable scraps are collected daily from out local store and classes across the school are encouraged to feed their leftovers from lunches to the chickens, the worms, or the compost bins.

Students write a blog about all the things in the garden and school that bring them joy and help them obtain a yield. When they have an abundance of yield, they set up a market stall in the community to sell their produce and share their knowledge with their families. One of the most popular products they sell is their worm juice!

But the students in one year 5/6 class have taken this even further…they have formed POWER PATROL!! Recognising the need for a stronger focus on sustainability within our school, the students set about identifying ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint and at the same time save money!

Here is the result of that work, planned and produced by the Power Patrol themselves: