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Aboriginal plant use garden

27 May 2020

Gilmore Primary and Lake Tuggeranong College team up to develop an Aboriginal plant use garden

Gilmore Primary and Lake Tuggeranong College team up to develop an Aboriginal plant use garden

In term 1, students from Lake Tuggeranong College spent every Tuesday afternoon visiting Gilmore Primary School students in years 3 and 4, to work together on an exciting major project: building an Aboriginal plant use garden in the natural play space at Gilmore Primary.

At Gilmore Primary School, students spend 3 days a week in their natural playground, known as ‘Out the Back’. You won’t see any balls or equipment out here; students explore and imagine using just the natural world around them to foster connections with country and with the land.

Once completed, this exciting addition to the natural playground will serve as an engaging tool for students to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in a meaningful way.

“We want to develop a space where teachers can take children out and teach about, and children can explore, how the Ngunnawal people use plants in cultural ways,” Deputy Principal Lili Jankovic said of the planned garden.

For the Lake Tuggeranong College students, many who aspire to pursue ASBA, or careers in the early childhood in the coming years, this class provides the opportunity to develop valuable practical and interpersonal skills and gain hands on experience in a space that interests them.

“When we visit Gilmore Primary, the students have an opportunity to tap into these great interpersonal and leadership skills that we don’t always get to practice in our usual lessons at College,” said Lake Tuggeranong College teacher, Kim Hare.

“I have a number of students in my class who identify as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, and the opportunity to be role models in their cultural space is a really enriching experience.”

This time is also beneficial for the Gilmore Primary students, who enjoy being able to connect with the older students.

“I think that young people bring a different lens, it’s a bit of a thrill for younger children to hear from older people that aren’t necessarily adults or teachers,” Deputy Principal, Lili Jankovic said.

Back in March, the students began building their knowledge of native plants and their usage in Aboriginal culture, through an interactive presentation by Wiradjuri man, Adam Shipp from Yurbay.

Students were eager to learn the origins of the land they play on and toured their Out the Back playground to look for native plants. Everyone listened intently as Adam talked about the medicinal and culinary ways that Ngunnawal people use plants - they even sampled bush tucker such as bush mint, honeysuckle and Kurrajong pods (which taste like popcorn!).

Students listened closely as they were taught of the significance of sacred scar trees and discovered that there’s even one growing in their playground.

“Adam designed his presentation so that he used the plants that are in our playground space and referred to established plants that are Out the Back. He was able to gather plants from our school grounds and show the children how they can be used. Focussing on established plants in our play spaces makes their learning authentic and in context,” said Lili.

Although the building on the new garden had been temporarily put on hold due to COVID-19, the students continued their research and planning while home learning. With such an exciting program, we can’t wait to see how the students’ Aboriginal plant use garden turns out!