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Fertile ground for conversion


As the Adelaide Archdiocese celebrates the Season of Creation during September, many school and parish communities are finding innovative ways to heed Pope Francis’ call to care for our common home.

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The Council for Integral Ecology will launch it’s Laudato Si’ Platform during a pilgrimage to country on September 18.

One of the aims of the Council is to encourage parishes and schools to share and celebrate what they are doing to care for creation.

At St Catherine’s School, Stirling, a long, cold and wet winter has failed to dampen the enthusiasm of those attending the newly-established Family Gardening Group. Starting at 8am each Wednesday, the ‘green-fingered’ families gather to tend to the school’s garden, pot new plants and work together to learn more about their local habitat.

According to APRIM Krystina Dawe the school community is “very committed” to ecological conversion.

“We are blessed to have a school located in an environment that promotes ecological awareness but there is also a natural invested interest in it amongst our community,” she said.

“Even though we’ve had a bit of challenging weather some weeks, it hasn’t stopped people showing their commitment and coming out to join the gardening group.

“We use the time to plant out plants, have conversations about things like soil quality and tend to different areas of the school garden.

“I’ve noticed that the children involved definitely have a pleasing level of respect for the environment and are taking ownership of the projects.”

Ms Dawe said the group was formed at the start of Term 3 and was paving the way for parents to once again become involved with environmental projects at the school.

“Prior to COVID we had a lot of parent involvement in the sustainability arena but unfortunately a lot of that has dwindled due to changing COVID restrictions, so I guess this is the first stepping stone in bringing that back,” she said.

Jane Radeski, who attends the group with her great nephew Charlie Helbo and his three-year-old sister Maggie, said it was a wonderful way for young children to have a positive interaction with their natural surroundings.

”It’s great for them because it teaches them about the environment and teamwork. Charlie is always keen to fill in his parents about what he has planted that day and he loves learning about all the herbs,” she said.

Mel Risby

Mel Risby said her son Finn, who is in Reception, was always happy to get out of bed early on a Wednesday so they could attend the gardening group. She added that St Catherine’s focus on the environment had been a drawcard when they were looking at different school options.

The school garden includes a vegetable patch and chicken coop – with produce sold to school families – a worm farm and compost heap.

A grant was recently received to for a ‘lizard garden’, which will include plantings to attract small reptiles to the area, and there is also a focus on aquaculture with the school being part of a captive breeding program for the purple spotted gudgeon.



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