Love Letters to the Land

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5 June 2024

Costa Georgiadis talking to students

Australia’s beloved gardener and Junior Landcare ambassador, Costa Georgiadis, paid a special visit to St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Werribee, earlier this year.

Thousands of children from across the country participated in the Love Letters to the Land competition and St Joseph’s in Werribee was the proud winner. The school submitted hundreds of letters, with each student sharing heartfelt sentiments about their love for the land and detailing what they do to care for it.

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School opened in January 2021 with 127 students and now has 300 students involved in the impressive garden area. The school has built a vegetable garden, bush tucker garden, frog habitat, medicine garden, worm farm, composting station, mud kitchen and yarning circle, with the aim to create a space that incorporates Indigenous perspectives. St Joseph’s has also received a Woolworths Junior Landcare grant.

Students take a leading role in the research and design process, honing skills, sharing knowledge and fostering connections in the local environment. The diverse projects cultivate understanding of sustainable practices. Exploring local flora, fauna and the several Kulin Nation seasons, students witness real-world changes by planting and supporting the ecosystems around them.

Elizabeth McPherson, the Environmental Education teacher, expressed her excitement upon receiving the news of her school being declared the winner. She stated: ‘Costa is a ray of sunshine. This feels like validation for the hard work the children have put in. The kids are thrilled to meet Costa; we all love watching Gardening Australia Junior.’

Costa toured with the school’s environment captains, met students in a surprise special assembly he hosted and participated in planting activities with the students.

Costa Georgiadis in the garden

Costa noted: ‘I’ve just spent a seriously memorable morning with children and educators from St Joseph’s Primary School at Werribee, just outside Melbourne. Their contribution to the Love Letters to the Land Junior Landcare project was above and beyond, and I had the chance to read some of the 300 letters shared by the students at the school. It was such a pleasure to recognise this effort with a face-to-face visit.

‘I had a great yarn with the children who are all fired up to talk about their garden projects and other Junior Landcare activities they have been implementing in their school grounds. And the thing that struck me the most is that the school itself is only four years old and the garden even younger, yet they are slowly and surely building an incredibly productive and educational space that is inclusive of all the students.

‘Garden educator Elizabeth McPherson is an absolute powerhouse and is energising the children to explore their natural environment. She is helping the children to create connections from the classroom to outdoors, turning it into a fun and inspiring learning experience. We are so lucky to have wonderful educators like Elizabeth to lead the next generation of landcare leaders to fall in love and care for our planet.’

This is an extract of an article that was originally published on the Junior Landcare website.

World Environment Day is the United Nations day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. This year’s theme is ‘land restoration, desertification and drought resilience’. For more information, visit the World Environment Day website.

Costa Georgiadis with students