Clare ECEC service welcomes Gardening Australia presenters to open native garden
Children and educators from The Gums Childcare Centre, in the regional South Australian town of Clare, recently received a visit from ABC program Gardening Australia, during which presenters Rebecca Sullivan and Costa Georgiadis planted and opened a native food garden to help local children connect with the Country they live on.
Speaking about the visit with the ABC, Mr Georgiadis said early childhood education and care (ECEC) services were uniquely positioned to prepare the children for a lifelong understanding of working in the garden, and the importance of gardening and growing food in a broader sustainability context.
The presenters were mindful to select “highly sensory” plantings for the garden, inviting children to smell, touch and taste the plants, as well as using them in the service kitchen.
The plants included three types of bush mint, native lemongrass, saltbush, karkalla or pigface, Warrigal greens and berries.
As well as supporting knowledge building and sustainability, the plant selections have opened up an opportunity for sharing culture and local yarns about the wild flora, Mr Georgiadis explained.
Many of the plants, as well as being delicious, have medicinal qualities, or a role to play in the broader ecosystem of the area.
Connection with community
Ms Sullivan, a guest presenter on the Gardening Australia program, has founded a local produce shop, Warndu, in Clare, working with her partner, Adnyamathanha man Damien Coulthard, to expose the local community to native herbs, spices and cookbooks to encourage more people to learn and use local food.
The inspiration for the store came when Ms Sullivan identified ‘a generation gap’ in terms of how people connected with Country, with many older community members feeling ‘quite embarrassed’ about what they missed out on in terms of learning about the Country they are living on during their school years.
“There seems to be a big elephant in the room of embarrassment, whereby none of us ask any questions because we’re so embarrassed that we don’t know anything,” she told the ABC.
In terms of her own personal journey, despite having worked in the food industry for ten years, she only realised how little she knew about local food when she met Mr Coulthard.
“If we want to bang on about a local food system then we need to include foods from our own back garden — the things that have been here for tens of thousands of years.”
Ms Sullivan’s son attends The Gums, and as such the native garden has a special point of connection for her, particularly as her son is Indigenous.
She spoke about the children in the area who go on to school with songs and language of the local area.
“They just get it, and they’re the ones who are probably going to teach us.”
To read the ABC coverage of this story, please see here.