Knowledge garden inspires outdoor learning

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The Knowledge garden, funded by the Ackerman Pick n Pay foundation, was established within the precinct of the SPARK primary school to create a rich ecosystem where learners can engage with nature in a respectful and nurturing manner.

Extending education beyond the classroom holds many benefits for understanding and engaging with a subject matter better. Through the investments into the Knowledge Garden, we have been able to make these areas more accessible for the teachers and learners and to create an environment that is both beautiful and educational.

Environmental education lessons were developed to incorporate the various gardens in Lynedoch into the school’s curriculum. A total of 14 lessons consisting of a lesson plan and worksheet, were developed. The various lesson plans focus on topics such as indigenous plants, exotic plants, soil types, insect search, frog life cycle, bird watching and leave shapes.

Laaika Moosa, Operations Manager at Spark Lynedoch School feels incredible to see how the garden has become a beautiful learning space. “The garden has become a safe place for so many people. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or need a mental or emotional rest, the garden is your calming space. It was our hope to provide this for the learners, and to showcase for other communities the potential to create their own learning gardens.”

With the initial creation of the garden, a teacher workshop was held to identify additional learning opportunities in the Lynedoch gardens. This workshop exposed teachers to the gardens surrounding the school, such as the vegetable garden, woodlands, labyrinth and recycling centre, and gave those that have never explored the gardens around Lynedoch an opportunity to do this in depth.

With the addition of various new plants, the grounds team looking after the garden was shown how to optimally maintain the various plant species of fynbos and indigenous plants, and training was also provided on garden dynamics, gardening to change moods and plant propagation. Our custodians of the gardens, such as Jeffrey Kock, really enjoys working in the garden and want to work here for many years to come.

A total of 442 indigenous and endemic plants were planted in the Knowledge Garden and areas surrounding the school and wetland. This was done together with learners from SPARK School, Intaba and the grounds staff. The planting of plants in the Knowledge Garden together with the installation of information boards and investment into other areas, has transformed the environmental education value of the outdoor learning spaces. These have become great resources for the school, as well as the preschool and youth programmes onsite.

This project has inspired many new ideas around learning environments and much effort has been made by various people in our learning community. We will continue to invest in human resource development, as people will be the ultimate custodians of this learning environment. We believe that by equipping people with knowledge and skills, they will be empowered to continue to develop the garden and its education potential in the long run.

Today, our children consider beauty, abundance and green inspiration to be a normal part of their school day. Given that many of our children come from incredibly tough and challenging home environments, we feel very privileged that they can experience a learning environment that shows how much they matter. We are optimistic that these are values they will take forward as they become leaders in their communities and society going forward.