New veggie patch turns Verney Road students into green thumbs

A bustling vegetable patch planted over lockdown is helping to turn kids at Verney Road School in Shepparton into budding green thumbs.

The vegetable beds had got occasional use over the past few years.

But Verney Road teacher and self-proclaimed garden connoisseur Troy Parker said the kids’ enthusiasm with gardening over lockdown encouraged the special education school to turn the beds into something greater.

Middle Years student Jet Welsh sets to work watering the garden.

“We had just been using the beds for tomatoes the past few years,” he said.

“This time around though, we thought we’d spice it up a bit.”

Since September, students have filled the beds with a whole range of fruit, vegetables and flowers.

Spinach, lettuce and radishes sit by carrots, chilli and basil.

Lettuces are continuing to grow at Verney Road.

A mint plant comes in handy for giving face masks a nice smell after wearing them all day.

The garden beds have even become home to seedlings of okra, an exotic flowering plant also known as ‘ladies fingers’.

Mr Parker said it had been wonderful for the kids, who moved to remote learning for a semester in term two.

“Kids learn they can grow a whole range of stuff and they don’t have to buy it from Bunnings,” Mr Parker said.

“They love it – some kids don’t want to sit down and read a book in the morning so they can come out and water the plants or pull out some weeds.”

The veggie garden is home to newly planted flowers.

Mr Parker said the kids had enjoyed the hands-on experience of getting outdoors so much, the vegetable garden had been incorporated into the kids school curriculum.

Students have been propagating seeds in Verney Road’s greenhouse and trying their hand at woodwork so they “aren’t scared of a hammer”.

Middle year student Ali Hussain enjoys working on the hammer.

The students’ newfound interest in plants also encouraged them to make a spray for the primary school’s memorial rose garden.

Middle year student Damien Peterson said he had loved planting flowers and learning about the environment and recycling at school.

“It’s where we grow flowers, new food and plants everyday,” he said.

His favourite food to eat from the veggie patch was the fruits.

Middle Years student Damien Peterson loves eating fruits from the garden.

His classmate Nicolarchi McGregor loved the process of watching plants ripen until they were ready to harvest.

“You can plant something for a month and then you get to eat them,” he said.

Middle Years student Nicolarchi McGregor getting his hands dirty in the garden.

Middle year student Cooper Wade’s favourite thing to do in the garden was “finding worms”.

His classmate Xavier said he liked keeping the garden safe and watered with the weeds kept out.

“It makes me feel happy,” he said.

Verney Road has grown tomato plants for a few seasons, but they’ve recently expanded their lot.

Story by Caitlin Cassidy. Photos by Megan Fisher.
Copyright – Shepparton News 2020