Identify the Current Situation:
Centennial Park School has embedded careful resource use across their school and systems. In 2019 they started to intentionally connect this practice with their Enviroschools journey when they applied for the Waikato Regional Council Envirofund to transform their old pool shed into a growing house. Though it would have been possible to acquire a brand-new structure for a similar cost, by building on existing foundations and re-using resources where possible, the project not only resulted in much less waste, but also allows existing resources to continue their useful life.
The project faced some delays and disruption but is now fully functional, with movable shelves and benches made from recycled and upcycled materials, and abundant space to store equipment. They also attached a rainwater harvesting system, and so the structure is helping their productive garden flourish.
Expanding on the success of the growing house, the kura explored further ways to promote resource recycling and reuse. During the playground refurbishment, all usable components were retained within the revamped play area, and retiring components were given new life in the maara kai.
Examples of this re-purposing includes using the playground hut to provide a partial shade in the maara kai and the old playground poles becoming stakes and growing support structures. Gravel that can no longer be used for playgrounds has been relocated to the garden to reduce mud and enhance grip during wet winter months. A “retired” slide offers the next project opportunity – students are exploring if it can be repurposed into some kind of water feature. They are wondering if it can be connected to the rainwater harvesting system and perhaps be used to grow watercress, become a washing station, a bird bath, or a variety of other proposed ideas!
Taking action to use and share resources well is a central part of Centennial Park School’s sustainability plan. In addition to their work for their maara kai they’ve set up a paataka kai; a communal space for sharing kai and distributing school lunch and ‘fruit in schools.’ This shift has turned food sharing into a more communal culture within the school. (see banner image).
To tackle waste from surplus fruit, the school invested in food dehydrators. Now, surplus fruit is transformed into a less perishable snack alternative for students.
Adding to their sustainable initiatives, they’ve recently established a worm farm, starting with worms gifted from Pukenui School. Kitchen and garden scraps are now valuable food for the worms, being converted into fertiliser that nourishes the school’s maara kai, and in turn, allowing more food to be grown and shared.
Reflect on change:
In their pursuit of circular resource use and zero waste, Centennial Park School embeds the process of reflection. Their work to use resources well, and to grow, share and connect with food has meant continually identifying challenges and barriers, and working to find solutions. Not having tools that were easily accessible shaped the design of the growing shed to include storage space. They explored and found ways to preserve surplus kai using dehydrators. Their next challenge is empowering more staff to engage with the gardening kaupapa! Continual reflection is crucial for acknowledging and celebrating progress, wondering about what next, informed decision-making towards effective actions.