Sensory garden provides bountiful harvest at Koondoola’s Burbridge School

Mitchell Starling, Daniel Abrahams, Sammi Kidane and Matthew Durrant at work in the school                      garden. Picture: Martin Kennealey d446837
Mitchell Starling, Daniel Abrahams, Sammi Kidane and Matthew Durrant at work in the school garden. Picture: Martin Kennealey d446837

A SENSORY garden at a Koondoola school for students with disabilities is not only supporting plants but budding gardeners, chefs and entrepreneurs.

Burbridge School principal Catherine Kapiteyn said the school’s garden project began three years ago, with the sensory component included recently for stage two.

“There’s a lot of planning because we’ve obviously got to make sure the garden’s accessible for all of our students,” she said.

“Wheelchairs are quite bulky sometimes so we needed to make sure it was designed properly so the height was right and they could actually access the sensory plants and get around it.”

Classroom teacher Peta Cutter said the third stage of the project was creating an international garden to include plants from the different cultures of students attending the school.

“It’s a very calming area for reading a book and we’ve had people come out and sing songs and the kids love dancing in that area as well,” she said.

Dr Kapiteyn said the garden was used to cover horticulture and enterprise learning areas under the ASDAN curriculum.

“We’ve got a beautiful multi-purpose kitchen that’s adapted for all of our students,” she said.

“We’re going to make sure that we can start to grow some things that we can then use in the kitchen and possibly package and maybe sell as a small enterprise program so students learn the whole process from start to finish.”

Students have already made Christmas presents using herbs from the garden and placing them in oil.

“For our students, that’s looking at the appropriate bottles that they can go in, making the stickers that can go on the bottles, deciding which smells to use, which herbs to use – all those sorts of things,” Dr Kapiteyn said.

“The reason we do ASDAN and the reason we do a lot of these programs is obviously we need to always be thinking about where our students are going to be after school.

“They may be in employment, some may be in supported employment or volunteer positions and others don’t have the capacity perhaps to do those things, but they are going to be in some sort of leisure and recreation program away from the home.

“So we do all of these sorts of programs to try give them some of the skills that they’re going to need to perhaps volunteer at Benara Nurseries, for example, or horticulture programs where they can perhaps help at Bunnings.”

She said the students loved helping in the garden and had helped get the grounds ready.

“They love to remember to go out and water the plants when they need watering; they just love to see them grow,” she said.

The City of Wanneroo provided more than $2000 for the garden through a community