Working with…chickens?

Our first Kew Primary Working Bee for 2014 is coming up this weekend!  We have quite a list of jobs so we hope we’ll see lots of families up at school on Sunday, starting at 9.00 am with a break for morning tea (Jayne Campbell’s scones – YUM!) and finishing around 1.00 pm.

Jack  with Commando...or Waffles

Jack with Commando…or Waffles

Our Working Bees are organised by the school’s Building and Grounds Subcommittee each term.  The Subcommittee also gets involved in planning and organising longer term projects that help to improve the physical aspects of the school. They work closely with the Fundraising, Marketing and Communications Subcommittee, the PTA, School Council, and with Robin and James, on prioritising projects and raising money to fund them. Rather than waiting to hear about projects in the newsletter, have a think about getting involved with Building and Grounds! If you are interested, have time for a monthly meeting and / or have particular skills to offer, please do get in touch with James (penson.james.j@edumail.vic.gov.au). Many hands make…well, you know the drill!

Kerry with Mabel (maybe...)

Kerry with Mabel (maybe…)

For this Working Bee, one of our most important tasks is getting stuck in to the kitchen garden and chook shed. Last year Jacqui introduced us to Katie Braemar and the garden on the blog (https://kewprimaryschool.com/tag/chickens/). Lucky Katie is off overseas travelling this year so we thought we’d meet up with this year’s garden coordinators, Kerry Lomas and Melissa Hayes, their very enthusiastic Green Thumbs and get up close with the chickens…

Jennifer with Dammy (we think…) and Ben tells us that the chooks have chosen Dammy as their leader

Jennifer with Dammy (we think…) and Ben tells us that the chooks have chosen Dammy as their leader

Can you tell us how you all decide what is going to happen next in the kitchen garden?

Ultimately nature dictates what we do next in the garden! We follow a vegetable planting guide for each season and are currently getting the beds ready for our next round of planting. Autumn is a time to enjoy the last of the warmer weather and remove summer crops. The cooler weather means it time plant a variety of herbs, spinach and bok choy.

One of the new worms loving its new home, moist soil and delicious scraps

One of the new worms loving its new home, moist soil and delicious scraps

The Green Thumbs hold weekly meetings to plan what needs to be done next in the garden.  There is always a long list of things to do!

Jamie and Jonathon with Waffles, or maybe Commando

Jamie and Jonathon with Waffles, or maybe Commando

What does Sally use from the garden in her delicious canteen cooking?

Sally loves to use all the vegetables and herbs from the garden, especially the lettuce and salad items. She gets very excited when we have freshly laid eggs from the chickens first thing in the morning.  We are just about to plant our autumn crops and can’t wait to see how Sally will use them in the canteen kitchen.

Ben with the whole flock

Ben with the whole flock

What are some of your favourite things about the kitchen garden? What is the job you like to do the most?

Jamie: I like feeding the chickens because we have never had any chickens at home.

Jack: I love the rhubarb because it is really sweet when you cook it. [Would that be the rhubarb or something that someone added to it?!]

Natasha with Peaches or...

Natasha with Peaches or…

Jennifer: I really enjoy watering the garden in the morning because it’s cool and there aren’t so many people yelling. It’s calm and quiet.

Natasha: I like how the chickens run around you in the morning because they want to be fed.Chicks6

Ben: I like feeding the chickens – my dad grew up on a farm so I must have gotten it from him! I also like watering because the hose is VERY powerful!!

Jonathon: We’re growing two capsicums! [They really are there in the photo – look for the hint of red!]

Growing capsicum...look closely!

Growing capsicum…look closely!

I have never been brave enough to try growing capsicums! I have a very small veggie garden at home – it’s a bit of work at times, and we don’t have chickens! How can families get involved in the kitchen garden and with the chickens?

Dylan checking for eggs

Dylan checking for eggs

We would love the whole school community to get involved with the garden program! We need volunteers to assist with the weekend roster for feeding the chickens and watering the garden.  This is also a great opportunity for you and your family to spend some time together weeding!

Kerry explaining about the importance of calm energy in the kitchen and around the chickens

Kerry explaining about the importance of calm energy in the kitchen and around the chickens

Each class will also be allocated time throughout the school year to work with Kerry in the garden and participate in garden based learning.  This will allow all students the opportunity to learn about the chickens and get their hands dirty!

Maria and Steph: regular garden helpers

Maria and Steph: regular garden helpers

There is always a lot to do in the garden and we would love any ongoing support you are able to offer.  If you are able to help out in any way, please contact Kerry Lomas (lomas.kerry.m@edumail.vic.gov.au) or Melissa Hayes (hayes.melissa.a@edumail.edu.au)

Melissa using our photo opp as a basil picking opp! She loves it!

Melissa using our photo opp as a basil picking opp! She loves it!

Amanda Aitken is the contact person for weekend and holiday chicken roster. If you would like to specifically help with feeding and watering the chickens (no, no, changing their water, not watering them!), then send her an email at amanda@metrotennis.com.au In return, you get to keep any eggs you collect! Delicious, oh so fresh and pale pale yolks.

So during Sunday’s Working Bee we’ll be cleaning out the chicken’s shed, washing out their water bottles (why do they insist on using one of them like a toilet?) and putting in some fresh hay. Let’s see if we can fill up those garden waste bins, get the beds turned over and all ready for a wonderful crop of autumn and winter veggies!

If you would rather steer clear of the chickens, then we’ll have lots of other things to do: sweeping, weeding, sanding, pruning, etc. etc. See you on Sunday from 9.00 am onwards!

Kath Phelan

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One thought on “Working with…chickens?

  1. I love hearing about the chickens and the kitchen garden! I wished my Dad had let me have chickens growing up on our dairy farm. My girls love coming to feed the chickens…and we have enjoyed eating the eggs. We don’t have space at home for a garden or animals, so we really appreciate KPS providing such a wonderful oasis in the middle of our big city. Can I get out of the working bee if I come to cuddle a chicken?

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