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23 July, 2020

Green thumbs given gift

MICHAEL and Lindy Alba have been awarded a special plaque courtesy of Mareeba State School (MSS) to thank them for all the work that they have done and continue to do in the school’s community garden.

By Rhys Thomas

MICHAEL and Lindy Alba have been awarded a special plaque courtesy of Mareeba State School (MSS) to thank them for all the work that they have done and continue to do in the school’s community garden.

The community garden was the brainchild of MSS year one teacher Skye Clarkson, who had decided to give the students a chance to learn their gardening skills hands on.

She asked ex-landscapers and avid gardeners Michael and Lindy Alba to assist with the gardens creation and maintenance and to share their knowledge of gardening with the students.

With their help the small garden flourished and enabled the students to learn all about garden maintenance and the produce that can be grown and eaten from a garden.

Michael was excited to start helping in the MSS community garden as he hoped to help educate the students and share with them some of the health benefits he receives from gardening.

“I love helping people and designing gardens and a school is a great place to have a garden,” he said.

“I’ve always had a passion for gardening ever since I was a small child it’s something that keeps me fit and healthy.

“I just love being in the garden so I thought that people could get some of the same benefits that I get from being in the garden.”

After being asked to assist with the garden both Michael and Lindy have had a massive hand in garden education.

“Prior to the virus there were different groups of children coming into the garden and I saw their excitement in listening to what I had to say,” Michael said.

“There was a group of kids that was supposed to be naughty and yet I didn’t see any of that when they were in the garden, they were calm and happy to help out.

“It’s very rewarding and satisfying to see the kids learning and trying to take that knowledge home.”

It is not only the students who are reaping the rewards of the community garden, as many of the students return home and want to continue gardening.

“We’ve also had feedback from parents with their kids coming home and asking their parents to do a garden at home,” Lindy said.

“Because Michael and I and going into retirement now it’s really satisfying to see the kids learning.”

The MSS staff organised to donate the plaque to show their appreciation to Michael and Lindy for all the work they do,

Mrs Clarkson stated it was a “small token” which was quickly corrected by Lindy saying it was a “large token” to them.

They received the gift on June 22 and it was in the form of a specially made wooden seat with the engraved plaque attached.

Michael added that often while working in the garden teachers will approach him and express their appreciation and thanks to both Michael and Lindy for the work they do.

“To me that feels really good to be appreciated or acknowledged for what I have been doing in the garden,” he said.

“Just that is enough we don’t need all these presents.”

The gardens benefits extend beyond learning how to plant but coupled with their usual learning methods the students also learn why they are doing certain things in the garden.

Mrs Clarkson believes that a good balance of both indoor and outdoor learning can really benefit the students and even help them concentrate.

“The garden has lots of learning benefits for our students, we are able to take our indoor classroom learning into the outdoor environment,” she said.

“A lot of students come to the garden on their breaks and just walk through the garden.

“It’s important to have a balance of hands-on learning and other learning methods.”

The gardens fruition was also assisted by other members of the community with donations of materials and seedlings when the garden was first being built.

Acting Principal Hannah Simpson is proud for the school to have a fantastic resource like the community garden and the assistance of both Michael and Lindy to help educate the students.

“Mareeba State School prides itself on that it takes a village to raise a child so to have people come in and help teach the kids is spectacular,” she said.

“It’s important that the kids here know that whilst reading and writing and doing academics in the classroom is important there is another whole world out there.”

“The next step for the garden journey needs to be a way to make the garden more accessible to the community.”

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