St James’ Heritage Garden

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The new Heritage Garden at St James’ School, Brighton (before and after).15 March 2021

The new Heritage Garden at St James’ School, Brighton, has transformed the playground into a day at the farm. The project has come to life since lockdown and, while it is already extraordinary, the garden will have deep roots and lasting fruit for the school community. The school shared the following information about the project.

Since late 2020, St James’ School has undergone a sustainable transformation. Through the hard work of parents and friends, old artificial surfaces have been replaced with a natural wonderland.

Dave Ferrier, a school parent and arborist, turned to his creative skills during the 2020 lockdown to design, lead and construct a showcase of sustainability.

After learning at home, students were welcomed back to school to a new sensory garden, made from natural materials like wood, fallen tree branches and river stones. Play spaces to feed imagination were linked by an ‘adventure trail’ through a dry creek bed hiding a crocodile and other friends. And for teachers, a new outdoor classroom around a ‘campfire’.

The herb garden and first stage of the Urban Food Forest soon followed, with herbs, tomatoes and peppers planted to thrive over summer.

Following a student presentation at Port Phillip EcoCentre’s Annual School Sustainability Festival in November, hard work over summer resulted in eight more garden beds constructed and ready for planting. Plus a new rustic log-sided sandpit, just for fun.

‘The looks on the children’s faces when returning to school were simply priceless. It’s been so rewarding helping the amazing teachers of St James, hearing the imaginative stories from playtime and having some children taste their very first organically grown tomatoes’, Dave said.

Once an area of worn and weathered artificial grass, concrete and weed beds, the outdoor play spaces have been developed into something truly special. The students and teachers are literally enjoying the fruits of hard work.

Principal Brendan Flanagan said: ‘Our students and teachers were thrilled to return to school to a playground with even more new and engaging things to see and do. A great deal of hard work has really transformed our outside area into a living educational space.’

Plans are being made for the next stage of the project – a new ‘bush tucker’ garden developed with guidance and education from the Boon Wurrung community.

And an outdoor pizza oven made from recycled bricks. Imagine how inspiring it is learning to make and eat your own schoolwork with tomatoes and herbs you’ve grown in class.

For school enquiries, contact or 9596 4766.