Arden Anglican School students show off their produce.

School’s Veggie Garden Brings Community Together

Arden Anglican School in Beecroft is reaping the benefits (literally!) of a partnership with local businesses to build a school veggie garden.

Bunnings is quite well known in the community for their generosity, between supporting community projects and their charitable BBQs out the front of their stores,” says the school’s Director of Development, Jackie Isenegger. “We approached them when the garden space was just a disused area of the school and we had some drawings we were trying to bring to life.”

“They helped with everything from tools to garden beds, plants to mulch and, invaluably, staff volunteers and a horticulturalist to help us excavate and build it.”

Students of Arden Anglican school build a garden box for their veggie patch with the help of Bunnings

Michelle Hannaford, Bunnings Group’s Activities Organiser at the nearby Carlingford store, called on other Bunnings stores in Rydalmere, Thornleigh, and Artarmon to get involved. “I really only needed manpower from the stores to help complete the garden with the support of parents and friends of the school. Carlingford Store also did some follow-up visits with the school to make sure everything was going to plan in regards to growing, weeding and feeding,” says Michelle.

Jackie notes, “We have also joined the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and have access to wonderful recipes and activities advice from the amazing staff who man the phones there.”

Local café Longshot is also tied-in to the garden. “We usually keep two to three boxes of coffee grounds on site for the Arden teachers to collect on their coffee run,” says its co-owner at the time, Mel Farr.

“After watching the War on Waste and being involved with the Bag Free Beecroft campaign, we changed from plastic to paper bags, introduced biodegradable takeaway packaging and started offering discounts to customers that bring reusable coffee cups.”

“Being a community café, we love supporting local projects. A lot of our customers are Arden families and we share the same values towards fresh produce and caring for the environment. A delivery of fresh herbs every now and then would be great too!”

Vegetables grown in the Arden Anglican School Garden

The benefits of the partnerships have been “extraordinary,” says Jackie. “The community gets to see these businesses contributing to their community.

“Longshot has been able to recycle their green waste and coffee grounds in an environmentally friendly way, thus reducing their carbon footprint.

“For Bunnings, the staff get the opportunity to put their skills to good practical use, using the products in a really hands-on, solution-oriented and community-minded way. As a company they get to have wonderfully engaging projects for their staff to work on, combined with on-the-job training, and they get visibility at a whole-school level of Bunnings’ generosity and community-mindedness.”

Gardening gloves worn by the Students at Arden Anglican School's garden

Natalie Ritchie
Natalie Ritchie
natalie.ritchie@copelandpublishing.com.au