New farm school
Motueka Rudolf Steiner School is becoming a farm-based school. Our vision is a purpose built eco-school integrated into a productive organic farm. The Head, Heart and Hands approach of Waldorf Education will be supported by daily activities on the farm and in nature. We seek to create a nurturing, healing and regenerative place for families and the land. Join us, become part of the community, enrol your children, share the farm and help create a better future.
The current Motueka Rudolf Steiner School (k-7) is located in the town of Motueka and our 13.6 ha farm is located 4 km away. Students travel to the farm for activities that support and expand their learning. Parents and supporters are involved in planning and developing the farm using biodynamic principles. Concept plans have been drawn-up for a new school campus on the farm and planning permission is in process. The farm is already a focal point for the school community and a place to meet and celebrate.
Our farm is a mixture of rolling hills, flat pasture, shelter trees, fruit trees, streams, and a lake. It has a long history of sheep grazing and fruit production which have resulted in low biodiversity and low fertility. We have begun the slow process of restoring biodiversity and fertility through biodynamic management.
Honouring the land and restoring nature are core values for us. We are setting aside 20% of the land as nature areas. A gully and stream in the middle of the farm is being replanted in native trees and will one day be a small forest. Steeper slopes are being planted with native trees and a wetland will be restored.
The new farm-based school will be unique in New Zealand with its restorative approach to farming and building that create nett-positive social and environmental benefits. Students and families will be involved in these activities through the school curriculum and community support. Many Waldorf schools around the world incorporate farming and gardening and we will draw on this pool of experience.
The farm school vision
Students at the new school will have daily access to nature and meaningful projects that teach team-work, resilience, respect, and observation. Outdoor classrooms will be as important as indoor classrooms.
Farm activities support core subjects such as; reading, writing and math, plus new opportunities, such as “Farm to Table”, tool making, building, clay work and animal care.
We will put our values into action. We value cooperation, inclusiveness and community empowerment. We value a respectful and regenerative relationship with nature, and a clean healthy environment. We value beauty and celebration. We want to live these values with our children and be an example to the wider community.
The project aims to be more than eco-friendly, we aim to be restorative and give back to the natural environment and society. The land is not prime farmland and the building foot-print is small. 20% of the farm is being set aside for nature. Bio dynamic farming does not use pesticides, herbicides or petrochemical fertilizers, and aims to increase soil fertility and biodiversity. All organic waste is composted and returned to the land.
We are encouraging low impact transport by building a cycle trail that connects the farm to existing cycle trails. It will be possible to cycle off-road from Motueka township to the farm.
All our farm water needs come from our lake, stream and well. Rainwater will be collected from buildings. Wastewater will be treated and used onsite. Stormwater will be directed to nature strips to be filtered before entering water ways.
We plan to use grid-tied solar power as this is the most low impact and socially responsible option in New Zealand. Grid power in New Zealand is 80% renewable energy. During school holidays our solar power will be feedback into the grid. Rather than invest in our own batteries that are energy intensive to manufacture we prefer to pay for a grid connection because a cost effective power grid is a social good for all New Zealanders.
The local climate is notable for high sunshine hours, long summers and mild winters. Buildings will be designed to maximise the solar advantage and natural ventilation. Outdoor classrooms will be places of beauty and inspiration.
We plan to create natural buildings using clay and straw from the farm plus local sustainable timber. We will avoid toxic materials such as CCA treated timber. Building design will reflect our core values and aim to be places of inspiration.
The development aims to be nett carbon positive and lock up more carbon than was released during construction and running. Key elements will be the use of straw and wood in the buildings plus tree planting and the long term increase in soil humus. Materials with high embodied energy, such as concrete, will be minimised. We hope to find funding to document this aspect.
Background to the project
Our vision to become a farm-based school grew from many seeds. The lease on the current building was due to expire in December 2015. The lease has now been extended but with less security. We have also out-grown the present, rented, site. The old hospital building is both too small for our needs and it is in poor repair. Class sizes are restricted due to lack of space and the outside area does not offer enough to our active and creative pupils. We see a growing need for communities to be more supportive, inclusive and resilient. We see a growing need for people to connect to nature, food and each other. We see a growing need to support the health of children and families through a living enhancement of the senses so that we can all better meet the demands of modern world-developments, in constructive and conscious ways.
Friends of farm school
Put yourself in the picture and join the team that are creating a very special school and farm. Friends of Farm School are wonderful people who are making it happen by contributing time, money and skills. Friends are part of the school community and receive updates and invitations to festivals and events. Join Friends now.