Westport students look to build an indigenous inspired sensory garden in 2018

STUDENTS at Hastings Secondary College (Westport campus) have began planning an Indigenous-inspired sensory garden to be built in 2018.

The year seven students, soon to be in year eight, brainstormed to create several designs in groups, which will now be voted on and merged to incorporate the best elements from each project.

They are part of the Zenith class – an enrichment program to enhance and extend learning experience of gifted and high achieving students.

The result will be an exceptional outdoor education area, full of sustainability.

Sensory gardening activities have many benefits and foster vital skills for a students’ future.

This includes using indigenous food elements in a practical understanding, including environmental sustainability.

The food will be used in food-preparation using the hospitality centre on campus.

Hellene Underwood-Nincsics, a drama and English teacher at the school, has been the inspiration in driving the project.

The project will also teach students to take responsibility, and will use numeracy and literacy incorporated through calculating the cost of production of the garden and producing food. 

Students have been researching outdoor sensory gardens and have held discussions with indigenous leaders in our community.

They visited Sea Acres rainforest and heard about native plants and their properties.

Student Chris Rajcany said they wanted to use a lot of sensory aspects and were inspired by ideas from local Aboriginal elder, Uncle Bill O’Brien.

“The different plants and the many uses they have was a good learning experience,” he said.

“Some can be used for medicine, for food, one of the berries is a mosquito repellent … that kind of thing is really interesting. We also used a lot of Aborginal totems in the design, like boomerang shapes for the seats.”

Another student, Mackenzie Shaw, said she noticed vast differences between the Aboriginal way and the current way of gardening.

“The indigenous people used only the land, whereas these days we all seem to use a lot of chemicals and things like that,” she said.

The next steps include collating the results of the design votes, deciding on the elements based on results and developing a project timeline for implementation.

It is expected this is where the broader community and the college community will participate in the first quarter of 2018.