indigenous school garden Learning Grounds is part of Merri Creek Management Committee’s commitment to conserving indigenous biodiversity. As of 2017 have 17 years of practice to assist schools in the northern metropolitan area of Melbourne with their plans to establish indigenous gardens in school grounds. This is a practical way for schools to demonstrate sustainability, contribute to the expansion and integrity of the Merri Creek catchment's flora and fauna. We are very mindful of excellent opportunities in this context to recognise the Indigenous cultural heritage of Wurundjeri Country and involve the Wurundjeri community.

Schools participating in Learning Grounds commit to closely involving their students. We support learning opportunities during the concept design and planning phase and the vital establishment and maintenance phases. We support educational incursions and excursions, preparation of grants, site assessments and plant lists.

Learning Grounds has supported over fifty schools with indigenous gardens of varying sizes using various STEAM approaches as a teaching foundation. Our local, hands-on approach and use of arts-based learning in age-appropriate ways is very effective for framing conversations about Wurundjeri Country and the development of ecoliteracy.

Stories: How Indigenous Gardens in Schools Works

Schools may have a basic common vision for an indigenous garden in their school grounds, but individual needs are highly variable. For example, one school's goal was to connect to nearby indigenous biodiversity. Another school completely transformed a dismal concrete entrance to signal their ability to be adaptive to change. They recognised Wurundjeri Country powerfully through the area's redevelopment and timed planting for NAIDOC Week. Another school obtained a large grant in partnership with us to transform a huge derelict site with over 3,000 indigenous plants planted entirely by the school community. They renamed the renewed area using the Wurundjeri community's Woiwurrung language. Other schools have preferred to develop areas using native grassland species to complement snazzy new architecture or to attract birds or butterflies. Indigenous gardens have other amenable qualities: They use less water once established, do not require mowing or fertilisers and are usually cheaper to maintain. The main challenge of any garden is maintenance and controlling weeds. Indigenous gardens in schools provide a tangible chance for kids to get skilled and dirty. Indigenous gardens in schools also provides a living example to inspire the wider community to move away from introduced species in their home gardens.

Costs and Educational Outcomes

Our Learning Grounds program is supported by the Cities of Yarra, Darebin, Moreland and Whittlesea which means no costs for many schools. We offer a number of student activities through Learning Grounds involving:

  • Writing, inviting, imagining
  • Master planning, designing, constructing
  • Measuring, mapping, maintenance

Learning Grounds means:

  • Recognising the context by considering Indigenous cultural heritage and the conservation efforts of others
  • Developing a plan to fund school ground development and discover grant opportunities
  • Planning to involve your students richly in preparation, planting and maintenance
  • Realising experiential and integrated curriculum goals - at your door step
  • Linking up with local communities and organisations
  • Creating habitat links