Locals who cleaned up in this year’s Tidy Town Awards have been presented with their awards and lauded for their forward thinking approach to the environment.
Forbes North Public School was awarded the Environmental Education Award for its partnership with the school, drumMUSTER and Landcare to extend sustainability in the community.
In 2009, the school became the first in NSW to establish the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program.
The Landcare group received funding from drumMUSTER for the inspection of eligible empty agvet chemical containers being returned for recycling by farmers and other agvet chemical users. A portion of the funds raised through Landcare’s inspection services were redirected to purchase a water tank to help sustain the garden initiative.
From the beginning, the school community has embraced sustainability and now in 2014, all fourteen classes have weekly garden science and kitchen lessons.
Forbes Shire Council’s Mayor Ron Penny, Deputy Mayor Graeme Miller and Chairman of the Tidy Towns Committee Jeff Nicholson visited the school on 13 November 2014 to present the winning certificate.
“I attended Forbes North Public School in 1957, and it’s always a pleasure coming back for these occasions,” said Mr Miller. “The development of the garden is outstanding. The project is aimed at teaching the next generation and the school has been extremely successful in doing this so far.”
With two ‘Highly Commended’ awards from Tidy Towns in 2010 and 2012, it was only a matter of time before the school was going to be crowned the winner.
“The program is very much entrenched in the science curriculum and has a big emphasis on sustainability and being eco-friendly,” said Principal Steve McAlister.
Garden Program Coordinator Sue-anne Nixon said the program has been running for the past eight years, with significant work completed in the last two years.
“We have a recycling program across the school that the kids are heavily involved in. They learn about sustainability through our compost system, worm farm, paper and cardboard recycling.”
drumMUSTER’s National Program Manager Lisa Nixon said, “The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program is the perfect link between education and the community. Hopefully we can duplicate this partnership for other community groups and schools across Australia.”
In addition to the Tidy Towns Award, the school has won various prizes for their local produce.
Chef Tammy Montgomery said, “Kitchen lessons run on a two week rotation, which means the kids cook once a fortnight with ingredients gathered from the garden. They have responded really well to the program, especially since I introduced dessert!”
The school also participated in Forbes Horticultural Society’s Open Gardens Weekend earlier this year which saw numerous people visit from surrounding regions.
The next project for the school is the transformation of the existing tennis courts into an eco-hub featuring native flora for outdoor learning. The school has already purchased matting with funding they received this year from a NSW Government Environmental Trust Grant.
Since 1999, drumMUSTER has collected more than 24 million drums across Australia. Once collected, the containers are shredded and transformed into practical items such as plastic cable covers, wheelie bins, road signs and bollards.
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Presentation of the award (from left): Chairman of the Forbes Tidy Towns Committee Jeff Nicholson, drumMUSTER National Program Manager Lisa Nixon, Principal of Forbes North Primary School Steve McAlister, Deputy Mayor Graeme Miller, Garden Program Coordinator Sue-anne Nixon and Mayor Ron Penny.