Motueka Rudolf Steiner School students have shown their appreciation to the many generous donors who have helped enable the school to purchase 13.6ha of picturesque farmland near Motueka.
Trees were planted on the farm last August via working bees attended by the students and the wider school community, a vibrant network of school families and their supporters. This highly motivated and diverse group are working towards a common goal – turn the land into a productive, biodiverse farm-based school featuring gardens, orchards, fields, animals and nature areas.
The 50 fruits trees they planted, including citrus, feijoa, apples and Asian pears along with many native seedlings, were all donated. They are now thriving thanks to particularly wet spring conditions this year, and a biodynamic approach to soil fertility. This week, as an expression of gratitude, students attached labels to the trees, which in keeping with the school ethos, were handcrafted from locally sourced Manuka wood and engraved with each donor’s name. A long lasting tribute from the heart of the school.
Students travel the 3.8km from the school to farm once a week for various activities that are integrating into the school curriculum. Activities are used to support core subjects like reading, writing and math, plus introduce new subjects such as “garden to table”, tool making and clay work. Parents and supporters are currently building a small, but impressive, shelter for the students.
The school aims to relocate onto the farm and is now seeking partners to help them fund and build a unique farm-based school. They aim to have the first classroom ready for 2018. The new school will give students daily access to nature and engage them in meaningful tasks that teach team work, resilience, respect, and observation. The farm will support the Head, Heart and Hands approach of Steiner Education.
Students are working on projects to build garden beds, a tool shed and hand washing facilities. They invite people from the wider community to join them and get involved. Supporters become part of Friends of Farm School, and can contribute time, money, equipment and expertise. Friends have already helped students build compost piles and dig for potting clay.
Motueka Rudolf Steiner’s new endeavour takes the concept of a farm-based school environment further than New Zealand has seen before. Both ambitious and pioneering, it comes at a time that is seeing a rise in popularity of Steiner schools across Australasia and a rise in nature based learning.