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Ecological sustainability

 

At Hermit Park we consider the whole physical space of our school grounds to be a place for learning, not just our classrooms.

Sustainability is one of the key curriculum drivers here at Hermit Park. We incorporate sustainability, in both a theoretical sense and through practical application, into as many aspects of our learning as possible.

Sustainability projects are integral to the operation of the school and new projects are trialled and introduced each year. Wherever possible, our sustainability initiatives are designed, built and managed on an ongoing basis by students.

As leaders in this field, Hermit Park attracts considerable media attention with regards to its sustainability projects. Senior students are also required to write newspaper articles on these projects which are published frequently in the Townsville Bulletin.

Our heartfelt thanks goes out to our many supporters whose expertise and financial contributions enable us to move one step closer to our dream of creating a sustainable environment.

Below is an overview of some of our major projects, many of which are inter-linked.

Water harvesting

Hermit Park has 14 water tanks with a capacity of 250,000 litres. These tanks supply water for our barramundi tank, chickens and worm farm.
 
Our Comet windmill, a first for schools in Queensland, works an average of 10 hours a day pumping 5000 litres a day. This water is used to run the toilets on the junior campus.

Water recycling

Our two solar operated sumps collect recycled water for use in our rainforest pond and chicken coup. The water is treated with probiotics which are friendly microorganisms.

Bio regen plant

Hermit Park was the first school in Australia to install a VRM Complete Nutrient Cycle Program that recycles food scraps into probiotics liquids. Students collect vegetable scraps at lunchtime for recycling rather than placing the waste in landfill.

Solar power

Hermit Park currently operates three photovoltaic systems. The major system is located on the roof of F Block and generates power for general school usage. Our second system collects power to operate a water pump which recycles water through our rainforest area. Our third system operates an underground water bilge pump which provides a constant water source for our chickens.

Barramundi tank

Our tank is heated to 26 degrees utilising a roof solar curtain for optimum care of the fish. For easy viewing we have large portholes and a solar powered underwater light. The tank can only be operated with the generous assistance of James Cook University (JCU) Aquaculture Department, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Water quality, Townsville Fish Stocking Association.

Aquaponics

Attached to the barramundi tank is an aquaponics garden which produces fresh vegetables grown on fish waste. Aquaponics uses 90% less water than normal soil gardening methods and can yield up to four times the crop.

Arid Landscape

Our arid landscape was a 2013 project, managed by Mr Aisthorpe, financed by his winning of a $40000 sustainability grant in 2012.  Construction was completed with the very able supervision and advice of ABC radio's resident gardening guru, Mr Phil Murray.  Plantings encourage many species of birds and animals into the school, providing a delightful new environment for our students to explore.

Rainforest

Established in 1994 the rainforest is located near the school administration area and consists of indigenous plantings, a student constructed walking path and places for quiet reflection. The rainforest is always a hive of activity through the year hosting numerous animals including Torres Strait Island pigeons, owls and butterflies.

Chickens

Currently the school cares for seven white leghorn chickens. Our chickens provide eggs for the tuckshop and introduce children to caring for animals. The chicken manure is utilised for permaculture in our gardens.

Native bees

Our school is very lucky to host three native bee trigonia hives. The hives provide a delicious honey with a lemony overtone. Because they are native bees they do not sting.

Gardening and fruit trees

There are numerous vegetable gardens around our school. Gardening commences in Prep and students plant vegetables according to the seasons. The school also hosts numerous fruit trees throughout the playground including paw paw, lemon, lime, banana, and lemongrass.

Banana circle

The banana circle was planted utilising permaculture principles. Students wrote to the Department of Primary Industries seeking approval to establish the circle. Students raised the bananas from test tubes. Many varieties are grown in the circle including Ducasse, Blue Java and Lady Fingers.

Coral tank

Our coral tank is located in the school office and was proudly donated by Xstrata. The tank introduces students to the intricacies of reef life as well as the scientific management of water quality.

Worm Farm

Our worm farm, managed by the year 6s utilises organic waste and provides our school gardens with valuable fertiliser in the form of worm castings and worm tea.

Recycling

We recycle materials such as paper, batteries, furniture, plants and water.

Fairy garden

Our fairy garden was established by our Grade 2 students with the help of many parents. The fairy garden promotes imaginative and free play within the gardens of the school.

Tree planting and management

Students have undertaken the planting of trees on all afternoon sun dominant walls in order to cool classrooms and reduce reliability on air conditioning whenever possible.
Our 120 year old rain trees are managed annually by a qualified arborist to ensure they remain healthy. The trees act to provide large amounts of shade for students at lunchtime as well as promoting bio-diversity within the school grounds.

Art in the school

As an extension of our sustainability program, throughout the school there is a variety of artworks focusing on different aspects of sustainability.