VCAL Students Growing Their Own Legacy

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Each year, students studying VCAL undertake a major project as part of their ‘Personal Development Skills’ topic. In 2018, the VCAL students at Marymede Catholic College have worked toward leaving a legacy that lasts long beyond their graduation date in 4 months time through the conception of their ‘Garden Makeover Project’.

The Garden Makeover Project was designed as a means to transform the Wetlands Garden Area behind House 7 at the College into a sustainable food garden which can be used by future cohorts for a range of causes, predominately charity based.

The VCAL students reflect on their experience below:

What Was Required From Your Class as Part of the Garden Makeover Project?
At the conclusion of our planning, and upon approval from Mr Kenny, the first task we worked on was to refresh and repaint each of the garden beds in the area. We chose to paint these in the six House colours of Marymede Catholic College. We then removed the old chicken coop to allow for more mulching space. We relocated the existing shed to make room for a new water tank which will be used regularly to care for the plants and finally we undertook a large amount of gardening work, including the removal of old plants and weeds and planting of new ones.

One of the final aspects of the garden to be completed was the installation of artwork produced by one of our fellow VCAL students. 

At the conclusion of the project we were extremely excited to invite our Year 4 Buddies down for a commemorative BBQ and followed this up with a group cooking session using a range of different ingredients found in the garden. It was a great opportunity to reach out to our younger students and show them just how the garden could be used long term as a means of sustainability.

How Did You Go About the Brainstorming Process for Ideas? 

The first component of this project was to come together as a group and brainstorm different ideas. Once we decided that we wanted to work in the Wetlands Garden Area, we explored different design concepts for example, the inclusion of a Barbecue and Seating Area. During this process we were able to learn about additional new development plans for Marymede Catholic College which impacted some of our initial designs but this led to us being able to include different design elements which were not in our original plans such as the Water Tank.

What Was the Most Difficult Element of the Garden Makeover Project?

The most difficult part of the project was initially sourcing the funding and discounts that we needed to stay within our budget. We received a lot of assistance from Bunnings which we were extremely grateful for and we were also lucky enough to have access to a Community Grant given to our School which we used for works on the project. 

Another difficult element was learning how to work together as a team. We needed to learn how to build strong, dynamic communication skills and learn how to distribute workload evenly. 

What Are Your Long Term Goals for the Garden? 

Long term, we hope that our plants continue grow and that regular harvesting can occur so that items can be donated to those less fortunate. We also hope that future cohorts will continue to provide maintenance in the garden area to ensure that the Garden Beds remain in great condition for the foreseeable future. We hope that this project will work to create a long lasting tradition between the VCAL students and Year 4 Team – working together in the garden. 

Why Did You Choose to Include Year 4 Students in This Process? 

We chose to work with the Year 4 students because we wanted to see the garden from a younger person's point of view and we worked with them previously in some of our Literacy tasks. We tried to design a garden that would benefit the whole School community so it was great to get the perspective of some of our younger students in addition to our own ideas.

They were great to work with - kind, respectful and a lot of fun. We would love to work with them again.

What Advice Would You Give to Young Students in Year 10 or Below Who Might Be Considering VCAL as a Pathway in 2019 or Beyond?

Well for starters, VCAL offers opportunities that VCE does not. VCAL is not just for students who do not want to learn academically or do not ‘like’ school; VCAL is a great option for all students who find it better to learn in a hands-on environment. We would recommend that anyone who is considering VCAL as a pathway contact the College to discuss further because it is a great alternative.