Childcare centre uses popular children’s book to create community garden

by Lyndsie Clark

January 31, 2019

A childcare centre in Cockburn, Western Australia, has created a garden based on the book I Grow in Grandad’s Garden by Brian and Ellie Andrew, focusing on sustainability, mindfulness, and the creation of a ‘digital-free’ space.


The community garden at Goodstart Early Learning Cockburn Central features sustainable materials and practices, the garden, which has transformed an underused space within the centre’s carpark, and is home to vegetables and herbs, all boosted by the help of castings from the worm farm.


Inspired by the book I Grow in Grandad’s Garden by Brian and Ellie Andrew, it has a ‘Think and Thank Chair’, where children can reflect on their day.


The garden was built with a $1,300 sustainability grant from the City of Cockburn, and encourages the children to learn about growing food, saving water and composting food waste.

Centre Manager Wendy Cook said that the grant went towards buying vegetable and herb plants, setting up the worm farm, building water tanks and ensuring the area was sustainable.


“We worked with other organisations including Communicare which built a bridge and mosaics which decorate the fruit tree pots, and Bunnings which helped with the selection and delivery of materials,” Ms Cook said.


The garden is part of the centre’s sustainability plan which was developed through attending Little Green Steps WA workshops.


Ms Cook said “Some of the produce has been used for making salads at lunchtime, parents can pick herbs to take home in the afternoons and it provides a sensory space for the children to explore and experience.


“Teaching children about growing their own food and sustainability are important aspects of this commitment to Goodstart’s social purpose,” Ms Cook said.


“It’s also important to teach children the importance of taking time out to think and relax.”


The area is predominantly a digital-free space which means educators look for non-digital ways to document what children have been doing, including children writing notes and making drawings about their time in the garden.


‘Chief Gardener’ Beth Tailor, an educator at the centre, has planted tomatoes, snow peas, eggplants, capsicums, strawberries, silver beet, beetroot, rainbow chard and carrots, along with plenty of herbs including basil, coriander, aloe vera, stevia, peppermint and spearmint.


“It’s a great environment for our centre,” Ms Cook said.