New farm school
Help create a unique farm-based Steiner School. We believe a rich, nature based learning environment is an ideal place for children to develop their many capacities and abilities.
Our mission is to foster an educational community of people, projects and social enterprises that embrace a positive vision of the future. A future where all people live in peace and harmony with each other and the planet. We educate people to know themselves, know and love one another, care for the earth, and have agency in creating a better future. We look to Anthroposophy, as a world conception, with its description of the universe and the Human being, to guide our endeavours.
Farm school Project
We are an established Steiner School with a project to build a new farm-based campus to give students a nature-based learning environment. Our 13.6 hectare farm offers gardens, orchards, fields, animals, nature areas, trees, a lake and wetland. The school has 16 years’ experience delivering child-centered, teacher-led holistic education. The new farm campus will use biodynamic and permaculture design principles to support the educational and environmental goals. We have the school, we have the farm, we have planning consents, and it’s now time to build.
Children are born learners, with an amazing range of gifts and capacities. They come with the capacity to love, to learn language, to share, to give expression to feelings, to work with passion, and so much more.
Our approach is to foster and develop each child’s unique capacities. We aim to develop the whole child, head, heart and hands. Our teaching is child centred and teacher lead.
We endeavour to educate children to be morally responsible, socially competent, creative thinkers, connected to nature and able to choose their own path through life.
We prepare students for the modern world and capitalist economy they are inheriting, but more importantly we prepare them to be leaders in the emerging ecologically based and socially responsible economy.
Why a Farm School
Children need nature and nature needs children. Research shows children who spend more time outdoors are happier and have better health, educational, social and emotional outcomes. In addition, children need to be outdoors to discover the wonder of nature and a love for nature. Only then can we expect them to defend and protect nature. See 10 specific, research based, benefits of getting students outdoors!
We are creating an educational farm as an exemplar of restorative land management. Biodynamic farming treats the farm as a living organism to be honoured and nurtured. The students and farmers who work the land are then rewarded with healthy organic food.
The farm is a mixture of rolling hills, flat pasture, shelter trees, gardens, 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. We do not use pesticides, herbicides or petrochemical fertilizers, and management practices increase soil fertility and biodiversity. All organic waste is composted and returned to the land.
The new farm-based school will be unique in New Zealand with its restorative approach to farming and buildings that create positive social and environmental benefits. Students and families will be involved in these activities through the school curriculum and community support. Many Steiner schools around the world incorporate farming and gardening and we will draw on this pool of experience.
Honouring the land and restoring nature are core values for us. We are guardians of this land together with the manawhenua iwi, Ngāti Rārua
and Te Ātiawa. Together we are committed to protecting the mauri (life force) and wairua (spirit) of this land and water. Twenty percent of the farm is being set aside as nature areas, including a one hectare spring-fed gully that is being replanted in native trees. One day this will be a small forest with a stream and ponds. Steeper slopes are also being planted with native trees and a wetland will be restored.
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 the 4 km from Motueka township to the farm.
All our farm water needs come from our lake, spring and well. Rainwater will be collected from buildings. Wastewater will be treated and used onsite. Storm water will be directed to ponds and 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 fed back 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.
Our preferred building materials are wood, earth and straw. Building clay is available on the farm. We will minimise toxic materials such as CCA treated timber. Construction will be light-earth infill with timber framing. 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 carbon. Materials with high embodied energy, such as concrete and steel, will be minimised. We hope to find funding to document this aspect as a case study.
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 nationally 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 Motueka Steiner
Put yourself in the picture and join the team that are creating a very special school, farm and community.
Friends of Motueka Steiner 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.