In 2008 Footscray West Primary School began a partnership with Ceres Environmental Centre to work towards 5 star accreditation as a Sustainable School. We are currently working towards achieving our first star in the core module. Our proudest achievement to date at F.W.P.S. has been our ‘Habitat Haven’. In 2006 and 2007, Footscray West Primary School went through major buildings works. As a result of this, much of the vegetation at the front of our school was removed or destroyed. In late 2007, we were visited by Shelley Woodrow and Helen Tyas Tunngal from the Nursery Growers’ Industry of Australia (NGIA), who presented a program called KidsGrow to us. KidsGrow is a program for teachers, with curriculum links, in which children are involved in the whole process of designing, building and maintaining a themed garden.

We were invited to be one of two Victorian schools to pilot the program in 2008. We decided that our 7 Year1/2 classes would create a ‘Habitat Haven’ in the front of our school in an area measuring 75m x 14m. Visioning Visioning began in late 2007. Children researched types of gardens and plants. They then brainstormed their idea and drew pictures and designs of the type of garden they wished to have. We decided on a site at the front of our school. Shelley and Helen came to our school and filmed us for a DVD to promote the KidsGrow program. Our most reliable and committed ‘Connector Bugs’, a parent group dedicated to the sustainable development of our school grounds had invited Shelley and Helen to visit our school and were on board with us from the start. Design Children drew pictures and maps of what they wanted in the Habitat Haven. We enlisted the help of a Landscape Designer, Claire O’Meara to take the children’s ideas and drawings and develop them into a workable landscape design. The design was set in 3 stages. Mentors We knew we could not complete this task alone. We had a minimal budget and limited knowledge about the process. The children contacted mentors, with the help of their Year 5/6 buddies.
Pam Vardy and her 3CR Gardening Show crew were contacted for advice about design and selection of native plants. Pam, Roger and Gwen Elliott, Millie Ross and Kylie Mumby visited our school one fine Sunday morning after their show. Year 1/2 and 5/6 children were in attendance to greet them. They gave support, advice and further valuable contacts. One of the valuable contacts provide by 3CR was Peter Johnson from NMIT whose students built the bridge for our dry creek bed. Cyclone Industries donated child size tools. Stuart Hale from Maribyrnong City Council visited the students and gave us advice about plant species appropriate to our locality. He sent us a plant schedule and donated plants. Creating the garden Once the landscape design was finalised, the Year 1/2 children set about preparing the grounds. They dug, weeded and mulched. Working bees were organised for adults to do some of the heavier work. Children attended with their parents and watched the bobcat remove existing concrete paths. Adults laid out plinth for the new paths and children carried in hundreds of buckets of crushed rock. Our fantastic Connector Bugs moved large and small rocks for the dry creek bed and dug out what would become the frog bog. They also built us a wonderful bird hide and seated area. Then came the planting. Seven Year 1/2 classes took their turn to plant native grasses and ground covers, small shrubs and trees and suitable waterplants. We planted out Stage 1 in June with the help of a grant for Arbour Week from the NRCL. W
e planted out Stage 2 over the whole of Term 4 2008 and we are still working on planting out Stage 3. Our grandiose plans cost far more than we had in our budget. Our Connector Bugs came to the rescue again by applying for grants from City West Water ($5000) and the Maribyrnong City Council ($10,000), both of which were successful. Without the support of this wonderful band of passionate and dedicated parents, our Habitat Haven would not have been possible. Footscray West Primary School now proudly boasts our very own Habitat Haven. A very different landscape from the area it was before and home to birds and other small wildlife.
By Footscray West Primary School|2017-11-06T17:16:40+10:00April 25th, 2013|0 Comments