Bonbeach Primary School Garden – Pip Australian Permaculture Magazine.

South east of Melbourne sits a little school in Bonbeach. The school holds a magical place where students, their families and the community can connect with nature.


caterpillar hunting

Pip – Australian Permaculture Magazine featured  part of this story in Issue 6 2016.



In 2013 the front of the school grounds were piled with rubble. A small patch of grass and 8 empty vegetable beds were all that sat on the flat grounds. It has taken 3 years for 2 very eager volunteering mums and a small army of students to transform the space into a permaculture based learning garden, filled with organic fruit orchard, native plantings, chicken coop, worm farm, mini food forest, frog bog, nature play areas and 25 vegetable beds – 6 of which are now community plots.

Jade and Amy met in the school whilst weeding out the existing garden beds and decided to plant a few quick growing vegetables to entertain the students. The popping of one pea pod opened up a whole new world to connecting with nature and embracing what it has to offer.

Permaculture was something the pair didn’t know a lot about, but with many hours spent in the garden a simple knowledge took hold and the yearning for a more abundant and sustainable environment needed to be created.  The Spiral Garden –Permaculture For Families was the first step to opening their eyes a little wider to the teachings of permaculture and how easy it was to translate to children.


catching snails with vegimite and water



seed bomb making with students

A garden club was quickly established with eager hands wanting to help transform the garden into a place where chickens roam, food self-seeds and nature provides a place for imaginations go wild.

They now hold regular lessons within the school teaching students how to grow food from saved seeds,  to cook the food they have grown and everything in between.

Shredding the schools paper waste to accommodate the school chickens and introducing compost bins was a huge lesson for everyone to learn and embrace. Building a frog bog to attract wildlife was another fun environmental lesson. Old school desks and gates were transformed into climbing frames and a chicken coop was built with the demolition materials of an old sports shed.


seeds grow in recycled egg cartons

Wildlife now finds its way in, with blue tongue lizards, ducks, frogs, native birds and many a gecko making the garden their home. Bug & bee hotels made by students scatter the garden and natural pest remedies are a fun part of decorating the garden.

There is never a shortage of children wanting to catch caterpillars for the chickens or supervising them as they munch away in the rotating green manure patch.

Nature based activities are now the most enjoyed at lunchtimes amongst all the students, not just the ones involved in gardening club.

The garden at Bonbeach is a place where kids can lose themselves in nature, where there are no boundaries in regards to what you can make with dirt and a stick. They learn how to take care of food forests, recycle paper, compost waste, share their food, manage worm farms, respect nature and embrace everything it has to offer.

The garden is always transforming as everything finds its natural place in the environment, including the students.

Creating a place to connect with nature, to enjoy what it can offer is a remarkable thing to watch and continue to learn from.

Jade and Amy now share their worm farming classes and garden knowledge with other schools, teaching them that they too can create a magical place where nature is the centre of  learning. An outdoor classroom is currently being built so that the local community can enjoy the space with them.

Jade Kavanagh & Amy Dowling


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