A local school is attracting bugs to their new butterfly garden with the help of a Green Adelaide Grassroots Grant. Find out more about the project.

Students with gardening tools standing in front of a classroom, digging holes
Athelstone School students getting into nature

Athelstone School pride themselves on their outdoor learning environment where students can come to get away from screens and out into nature. They wanted to build on this by installing a butterfly garden where the children could learn about and experience native plants and animals, particularly native pollinators like bees, birds and butterflies.

A space next to their reception classroom already had established sheoaks, native pines, wattles and eucalyptus trees, and as this was next to their existing frog pond it seemed like the ideal spot to build a native butterfly garden.

Read on to learn about Athelstone School’s Grassroots Grant story:

Why is this grant project important?

There is no better way to teach children about the benefits of the environment than for them to see it in action, rather than just reading about it in books.

Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Innovation David DeBoer said that he wanted students to see themselves as custodians of this corner of the natural world, and see themselves as our future conservationists, naturalists and scientists.

“Being able to see the biodiversity on our school grounds increase as a direct result of this grant has been fantastic for the students and has given them a real appreciation for the environment and what they can do to help protect it.”

How did the Grassroots Grant help?

The Grassroots Grant funded the purchase of 500 new native plants including old man’s beard, which can be used by birds to make their nests. It also purchased shrubs like sticky boobialla and Australian hollyhock, which attract bees and butterflies. The new plants also create new habitats for small lizards and birds.

The grant also enabled the students to create 2 signs about the local butterflies and frogs in the area.

Native plants including gum trees pictured alongside a classroom
Native plants purchased to attract local pollinators like birds, bees and butterflies
Butterfly and frog posters created by students at Athelstone School
Butterfly and frog signage created by students at the school

The grant also allowed the school to install nesting boxes for local birds, which are important as many large old trees with natural hollows have been removed during development of the area. Students were involved in choosing the trees to install the nesting boxes on and are now monitoring them to see what other native wildlife is being attracted to their garden.

A man stands on a ladder leaning against a tree, installing a blue nest box
Installation of nesting boxes at the school

How did the project improve the environment for the community?

The project helped bring the community together to build a nature space at the school for the students and their families to enjoy.

Local landcare groups, Country Fire Service, Blackhill National Park Rangers and FauNature organisation, along with the school's students, parents and governing council all participated in development of the butterfly garden. In addition to bringing tools and working with students on planting, these groups were also able to train up the students to care for the garden.

Athelstone students are pictured planting outside a classroom with yellow tags to identify the new plants
Athelstone School students were able to learn about the best places and ways to put in new plants

This has been a true community project, allowing a range of local people and organisations, as well as the students, to participate in the greening of their local area.

Words of advice for future grant applicants

Mr DeBoer said that future grant applicants should look for other like-minded organisations who can help with their project.

Athelstone School were able to use the knowledge and experience of local environmental groups to choose the right plants for their garden and come up with other plans for the space that they may not have thought of on their own. As he says “you can’t do it alone”.

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