If you are travelling into or out of the western side of New Plymouth, you may have seen a very colourful and eye-catching shipping container ‘parked up’ on Devon Street outside Spotswood College. This structure is called “The Designery” and it contains an amazing array of produce and products grown and made on site at the college which are for sale every Thursday and Friday from 11:30am to 2:30pm. It’s what goes on behind the scenes that makes this such a special place to visit.
Spotswood College is an Enviroschool with a vision based on sustainable principles, championed by Aly Scott, the Curriculum Leader for Inquiry Learning. Aly has that ‘can do’ attitude which has helped the college to transform unproductive areas into places where lots of learning about sustainability and circular economy are embedded within the curriculum. The beauty of this is the fact that all the mahi done by the students is providing purposeful authentic learning experiences based around action in the inquiry cycle. For example, the previously unused space at the rear of the college has been transformed into a working vegetable garden and chook house.
The produce grown (vegetables and eventually fruit) is used by the college in their learning programmes, such as horticulture, herbology, garden to table, math, science, research (e.g. development of sustainable packaging) and business. The money made by selling to the public from “The Designery” is strategically fed back to enhance further opportunities for learning.
Complimenting the mahi based around the gardens is a focus on minimising waste. For example, the students had the idea of making delicious tomato kasundi from a bumper crop of tomatoes which may otherwise have gone to waste. Researching ways to package items using environmentally sustainable methods has been a focus, such as constructing kono using harakeke. Additionally, creating various artworks and jewellery using recycled materials, pottery, scented candles, printing tee shirts and producing natural balms and creams based on Rongoā are all displayed for sale in “The Designery”.
To say that Spotswood College has hit the ground running is something of an understatement. Not content with maintaining the status quo, Aly and her students are exploring other ideas to create new opportunities for learning.
Check out what’s on offer at “The Designery” next time you are driving past or look them up on Facebook. You’ll be impressed.