SFSF - Schools For a Sustainable Future
Joseph Natoli, SFSF Project Director, surrounded by happy, enthusiastic children
synergy vol 1 issue 1


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Worm Farming
at Monash Primary School

Students from Monash Primary School bond with
their worms and find that the way to sustainability is fun... if a bit slimy! Sue Saunders tells all...


Last year, the Middle School at Monash Primary School embraced the theme of The Environment.  This, of course, is a big topic; so we decided to focus on the part which was most relevant to us: our school environment.   We are fortunate to have a unique and attractive school - an open-plan design with four 'Learning Areas' and a native garden.

Our principal contacted Joseph Natoli of Schools For a Sustainable Future, and he inspired us to undertake an environment project which we believe will continue for the rest of our lives.  The project has demonstrated, more than ever, that young people have a commitment to an improved environment: they are very aware of the importance of a clean, healthy world where everything co-exists happily.

Joe introduced us to our Worm Farm.  Some of us were enthusiastic.  Others felt the worms were not at the top of their list of priorities.  We learned how to look after them, what they liked to eat and how to make their home comfortable.  We "bonded" with them - some were even named and recognised for their individual characteristics!  Others, sadly, were ostracised and ignored.

Each student took a worm home to care for.  Every Wednesday the worms came back to school to be weighed and measured.  There was much discussion about each worm's favourite food, the weight they had gained, and in some cases, what had made the worms' homes slimy.  Linda Moon from Deakin University worked closely with us, and provided scales which enabled us to weigh the worms accurately.  Her Biology students also provided the worms with fruit and vegetables left over from their experiments - a very welcome change from cheese sandwiches!

Once our worm farm was established, we began to focus on improving our school environment.  Each day, students collected food scraps from all areas of the school.  We taught others to recycle their rubbish.  Monash City Council - who generously sponsored our worm bin - arranged to collect recyclables, while newspapers and scrap paper were collected by VISY.  Everyone in the school became more aware of, and more careful with, their waste.

A highlight of the topic was a school excursion to the Clayton Tip and Waverley Industries.  The students enjoyed sharing their knowledge with the professionals!  Even our lunch-break was conducted in the spirit of the trip: we ate our sandwiches in a park which had been converted from an old tip.

Students also took part in a Technology project which required them to build something to improve the environment of the school.  As a result, we now have bird baths and feeders, as well as nesting boxes and homes for the possums in our trees - all made from recyclable materials.

Our school's environmental activities have also seen positive effects in the wider school community.  Last year, we received many enquiries from parents and friends of the school interested in improving their home compost bins.  To address this demand, we plan to market and sell our worms in 1998.   As our Middle School students move to senior School they will take with them a valuable education in basic marketing, while those remaining in Middle School will continue to care for and nurture our worms.

Another aim for 1998 is to establish a vegetable garden to give children an opportunity to grow and eat freshly grown vegetables. Ideally - with the help of a special sponsor - we would also like to build a water tank, which would be filled with rainwater collected from the roofs of our portables. 

This project stands to achieve two things: 

  • it would provide us with water for our vegetable garden,
  • and it would lessen our school's demand for water from conventional supplies  

a logical, economical and environmeally sensible thing to do.  If you would like to sponsor this project, or have any ideas on how to help us, we'd love to hear from you.

A further plan for the coming year is to establish a Chinese Garden.  Our students all learn Mandarin, and as we have many children from Chinese families attending our school, we would like to build a garden to give them happy memories of their home.

When Joe initially presented our school with his program we were very unsure about its viability.  Now, however, having established worm farming at our school, I have no hesitation in recommending the project to any school or interested party.  The farm is easy to maintain and very convenient: whatever you can put in a compost bin you can feed to worms - they eat anything from chocolate Easter eggs to coconuts. 

Most importantly, the knowledge the students have gained is far beyond the expectations of our school curriculum.  The care and dedication they have demonstrated for the environment gives me hope that they will indeed create a successful future for our world.

For further information on Monash Primary School and its watertank project, please call Sue Saunders on (03) 9560 5841.

Find out about SFSF and see the program in action at Monash Primary School! Monash Primary School is hosting a seminar and workshop for Schools For a Sustainable Future on Saturday, May 16th (1998) from 11:00am to 4:30pm.

For details, please contact SFSF Project Director, Joseph Natoli on

Phone: (03) 9579 7224     Fax:   (03) 9579 6153
Mobile 0411 568 523



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Schools For a Sustainable Future

1 Curdies St.
E. Bentleigh Vic. 3165
Joe Natoli
Ph: (03) 9579-7224     Fax: (03) 9579-6153      Mobile: 0411-568-523


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