VEGIE FUN: Lead educator Suzy Cotton and Oliver Rogers, 2,  love to watch the class garden grow.
VEGIE FUN: Lead educator Suzy Cotton and Oliver Rogers, 2, love to watch the class garden grow. Chris Lines

Lunch scraps upcycled into lessons for low-waste life

SCRAPS and off-cuts are usually destined for the bin, but at Whispering Gully Childcare Centre they go into the classroom vegie garden.

Blue Gum room lead educator Suzy Cotton has been using the children's daily fruit snacks as an opportunity to teach important lessons about sustainability and life.

Ms Cotton and the children had grown a small produce garden on top of the lockers.

Ms Cotton said the idea sprouted when she noticed how interested the children were in the centre's outside vegie garden.

From there she started teaching the children about all the crawly friends which can be found in the garden and their fascination only grew.

"Now when we have our fruit snacks we save the seeds and put them in the class garden to watch them grow,” she said.

The benefits of this practical learning style become clearer as the children observe the circle of life take shape.

"I am always amazed at their reactions, when they hold produce in their hand they sometimes stare at it in awe,” she said.

"The kids begin to form an understanding of how the produce looks, not just above the ground but also below as we show them how root systems form.”

Ms Cotton said being able to witness and contribute to this cycle broadens the children's understanding of how it takes shape and what produce looks like as it grows and eventually decays.

The garden also helps to kickstart the children's learning about sustainability.

"We take all the scraps from the food we prepare here and place them into compost or into the garden, they see nothing is wasted,” she said.

After working in child care for 30 years, Ms Cotton said she had seen how the children carry these lessons into adult life first-hand.

"I have had people come up to me who I taught 20 years ago and say how great the garden was,” she said.

"There are some kids out there who have never seen anything like the produce and the processes we show them, so it is a really important lesson we are offering.”

Next on the agenda for Whispering Gully is bringing in some native insects to keep the kids intrigued.

The centre has a makeshift bee hive which will be used to attract native bees.

"We will be placing it out of reach of the kids but don't need to worry too much because native bees don't sting,” Ms Cotton said.



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