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By CASEY NEILL

ATHOL Road Primary is growing green thumbs.
The Springvale school won the Regional Award and the Most Engaging Student Garden for Teaching and Play Award at the Victorian School Garden Awards at the Royal Botanic Gardens on 26 November.
Environmental education leader Bryan Hunter uses the garden for the environmental studies program he conducts for students from Prep to Year 6 for 45 minutes each week.
The students plant new seeds and plants, harvest seeds and produce, weed, water, set up garden beds and propagate new plants from cuttings.
“The garden demonstrates different growing techniques with no-dig, vertical and traditional garden beds,” Mr Hunter said.
“We also have aquaponics growing beds, compost bays, and chickens and ducks that help with the composting and snail and slug eradication.”
Fruit trees range from citrus to plum, olive, nectarine, peach, pear, avocado and persimmon.
Also growing are grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, guava and passionfruit.
“We have a large greenhouse that is used for propagation of seeds and cuttings from around the school,” Mr Hunter said.
“Much of the produce that we harvest is sold to our parents and the local community, with all the money going back into the program to pay for chicken feed, new seeds and plants.”

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