Gloucester High School receives funds for sustainability projects

Michael Johnsen delivered the exciting news to the staff and the year nine marine students at Gloucester High School. Photo Anne Keen
Michael Johnsen delivered the exciting news to the staff and the year nine marine students at Gloucester High School. Photo Anne Keen

Gloucester High School's dream of becoming a regional sustainable agricultural educational hub is one step closer after it was successful in its bid for the State Government's inaugural Sustainable Schools Grant.

On a surprise visit to Gloucester on Thursday, February 20, Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen delivered the exciting news.

After applying for the grant at the end of last school year, Mr Johnsen told the school it will receive $15,000, the highest amount on offer, to go toward its plan to drought-proof its food garden and extend its sustainable farming design.

Gloucester High was one of 194 schools granted funds to create or improve student-led sustainability projects.

Science teacher, Judith Pickett and Technological and applied studies (TAS) teacher, Rob Seale worked together to come up with a plan to help secure funds to make their goal of becoming an agricultural educational hub a reality.

In the school's application, it looks at the construction of a hot composting system, the construction of Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) wicking vegetable garden beds with integrated worm farms, the installation of a perennial edible food forest integrated with edible natives and the introduction of vertical tree crops along the fence lines.

Also included in the system is an intricate water security set up to help ensure the food production is self sustainable in times of drought. It includes integrating multiple IBCs as gravity fed water tanks to supply the gardens, compost beds and animals, as well as forming swales and terraces to help harvest the surface water for the orchard and food forest.

The school is looking to work with Stroud's Limestone Permaculture to help with the educational side of the installation of the sustainable gardens, as well as having season specific workshops, demonstrations and farm tours.

The project fits in with the school's agriculture and marine course curriculum, providing hands-on education that can one day extend to other schools in the region.

The Sustainable Schools Grants program is open to all NSW public schools and preschools with the next application round open in November.