A Growing Trend: Permaculture in Schools
Educational environments can be improved by incorporating the use of permaculture in schools, libraries, and other learning environments. This will create a more balanced ecosystem for students to learn in.
In my previous three articles, I’ve discussed three important themes around permaculture:
We’ve seen that permaculture can be an effective way to build healthy ecosystems, and deliver more sustainable communities. Is it now time to implement permaculture into schools as well?
In this article, I examine how to incorporate permaculture into the school curriculum and into school building design – and why we should.
How Permaculture Can Improve Learning Environments
Applying permaculture principles in educational environments can improve the learning environment and the learning experience for students in schools. With its focus on cooperation, collaboration, and small-scale agriculture, it offers the tools needed for sustainable learning.
It helps kids with their education better than conventional methods alone by providing a holistic learning process that allows for balance, creativity, exploration, and social interaction, by teaching students about natural phenomena and providing them with hands-on activities.
When designing school buildings, it is also a strategy that can reduce a school’s energy use and be used to provide food for students.
Why Permaculture Is Important in Schools
Permaculture teaches kids how to take care of the environment through hands-on experience, and engages them in projects that benefit society.
Permaculture is an appropriate design system for schools because it offers practical methods of teaching students about plants and animals. It also provides students with a hands-on approach to learning about sustainability and ecology, while encouraging caregiving in their own communities through activities such as planting flowers, growing and harvesting food, and gardening on school grounds.
By creating these learning opportunities, children can make a positive impact on our world without having to be experts at any one task.
Permaculture in the Classroom: 5 Ways to Get Started
Many educators have started incorporating permaculture into their classrooms without even realizing it, simply because they are interested in sustainability and sustainability education. Other teachers are using permaculture techniques as a way of teaching subjects like math or science. You start implementing permaculture in the classroom by:
Teaching about the basics of permaculture
To do this, you can have students watch videos and read articles on topics such as how permaculture works, how to plant vegetables for self-sufficiency, etc.
Implementing an edible classroom garden
An edible classroom garden is a microcosm of the natural world and provides students with the opportunity to think in detail about how food grows. It also helps students to understand how they are connected to nature through food production and consumption.
Adding sensory-based activities
Adding sensory-based activities can engage students in permaculture more effectively. For example, you may have a container garden that changes throughout the season and a student-managed compost pile. You might create an orchard where students plant fruit trees and berry bushes which students harvest themselves so they can eat them throughout the year. There are many tactics and activities you can employ to give students a more interactive permaculture learning experience.
Incorporating local foods into the curriculum
Students can learn how they can help their communities by integrating more local foods into their curriculum and taking part in gardening programs. You can also host a cooking class or food fair where students learn how to cook with locally grown ingredients and demonstrate the effects on the food system through kitchen demonstrations.
Working with students to implement their own projects
Teachers can also implement permaculture into their classrooms by creating a curriculum for their students that encourages collaboration within the classroom, gives them hands-on experience with permaculture principles through projects, and encourages them to think about how they can apply the principles in other areas of their lives such as their families or communities.
Permaculture in the school design: 5 ways to get started
Permaculture can be applied in school building design to increase the resources available to students and teachers, as well as enable the building itself to benefit from permaculture features. It can be applied in a variety of ways, including:
Creating sustainable water systems
To implement this type of sustainable architecture, school buildings can be designed with a system that would allow water to be captured and reused for irrigation purposes. The idea being that the school would produce its own water supply without relying on outside sources.
One solution is to incorporate permaculture into the school building design process through green roofs and water harvesting systems.
Improving energy efficiency and environmental sustainability
The application of permaculture principles can benefit schools by improving their energy efficiency while decreasing environmental pollution; for example, protection from excess heat or cold by using shady areas or reflecting walls.
You might also take a sustainable approach to earthworks, creating features like ponds that help with water retention and purification, as well as working as a buffer against extreme weather conditions, or incorporating bio-swales (features that allow water to flow from one area to another while retaining nutrients).
Growing edible plants around the school
Create ‘food forests’ to have healthy food sources on location rather than having to drive miles or buy from stores. These food forests also help increase biodiversity and preserve natural resources.
Choosing native plants for both landscape and edible purposes
We can apply permaculture to school buildings by carefully choosing native plants for both landscape and edible purposes. Native plants are also higher yielders than exotic plants as they can regenerate their own food from organic matter such as leaves, roots, berries, etc.
The goal is to provide such benefits as increased biodiversity, cleaner air, better soil quality, and healthier food sources for students and staff members alike.
Incorporating trees in school design
There are many reasons to incorporate trees into school design. They are aesthetically pleasing, providing natural and serene scenery to the environment. They help to reduce pollution levels by absorbing harmful chemicals in the air, thus lowering pollution levels in the surrounding area. And they improve energy efficiency, by providing shade that reduces cooling costs in the summer and allowing light in that reduces heating and lighting costs in the winter.
Unlocking the benefits of permaculture through school design
The benefits of integrating permaculture into a school’s curriculum include the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, a lower carbon footprint, and increased creativity. Teaching can be made more interactive and effective.
When we design schools to incorporate the principles of permaculture, we unlock these educational benefits. We also provide environments that are more environmentally friendly and sustainable, more pleasant places to learn, and simultaneously reducing water and energy usage, which in turn reduces the cost of running a school.
At ACB Consulting, we are committed to helping improve the communities in which we live, work, and play – including how they are conceived, designed, and created. To learn more, contact ACB Consulting.