Outdoor environment at SDN Child Care Centre, Glebe.

Andrew Wood, Blue Wren Subcommittee Convenor, Bulletin 6/2022, August 2022.

The small grants program was established in 2018 and named in honour of Jan Craney, a respected and much-loved former convenor and member of the Blue Wren Subcommittee. In her will, Jan left the Subcommittee a bequest to foster biodiversity in our suburb’s parks and gardens.

Jan was particularly interested in the education of children (there are 14 schools and preschools in our suburb), leading to an increased awareness of the value of native plants and animals in our suburb. Funding for the grants has continued following a generous donation from another member of the Subcommittee.

The final report from SDN Child Care Centre, located in Glebe St, is on the outcomes of their 2021 Craney Small Grant, awarded for their project, Native plant vertical garden. The final reports from other 2021 recipients, Glebe Public School and Explore and Develop childcare, have been included in previous Bulletins.

Craney grant funds a native plant vertical garden

Ashley Knott, SDN Child Care Centre Director

SDN Glebe was thankful to receive funding from The Craney Small Grants Program. We invested in a native plant vertical garden project that would engage the children in caring for the natural environment and instil an appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. We started this journey by visiting and purchasing native plants from IndigiGrow, an Aboriginal social enterprise in La Perouse specialising in just Native Bush plants. We selected native herbs and bushes suitable to our climate and planted them in the preschool and toddler spaces.

During NAIDOC week in 2021, we introduced the plants to the children, built their understanding of the importance of nature around them, and started conversations about native Australian flora and fauna. The children developed an understanding that some of our natives have medicinal properties and call them ‘magical plants’ as they help soothe skin or ease headaches when made into tea. Other plants like the bush mint give off a delightful scent when children squish it between their fingers.

Since planting the garden, the educators and children have continued to learn about native plants and how to care for them. Over the last 12 months children have investigated the impacts of too much rain, not enough sun, and how visits from our local possums impact the plants. The children have been using problem-solving skills to come up with solutions to keep the plants healthy.

Over the last year, it has been wonderful to watch how each of the spaces has evolved by adding native plants to our environment. The children incorporate them daily into their play, either by using the herbs and bushes in cooking and sensory experiences or as props for imaginary play. Some children have even been inspired by their shapes and colours and incorporate them into their drawings.

The children have continued to grow their connection to the environment and gained an understanding of how they can be protectors of it. We have thoroughly enjoyed watching our spaces come alive, deepening both educators and children’s understanding and appreciation of the beautiful place we live.