Reducing, reusing, recycling and producing are central principles at Cathy Willey’s family day care service in Mount Richon. Cathy, who is a Roberta Jull Family Day Care educator, is a keen organic gardener and has created a number of systems that allow children to learn about growing food and reducing waste through everyday routines.

After meals, the children help to use food scraps to make compost, feed the chickens or add to the extensive worm farm. The worm farm includes seven containers of worms and the leachate and castings are used on Cathy’s vegetable garden and fruit trees. Using food scraps this way is such an embedded practice that Cathy says “We do these things without even thinking”.

Rather than using pesticides, Cathy blends plants with pest controlling properties and adds these to the water tanks the garden is watered from (rain water and water from the air conditioner are used). She and the children also remove snails by hand. The garden provides a chance for the children to learn about what plants need to grow and also to use their natural curiosity and practice persistence “If something doesn’t work out we try to find out why and learn how to do it better next time.”

The children enjoy planting, watering, picking and eating fruit and vegetables from the garden, equipped with child-sized gloves and tools. Cathy makes meals for the children from the garden as well as making preserves and giving produce to families of the children at her service.

Cathy reduces waste and chemical use, as well as saving money, by making hygiene and cleaning products, such as surface cleaners, window cleaners, soap, toothpaste and shampoo bars, herself Instead of using disposable wipes, she uses face washers. Cathy shares her knowledge about how to make these products at workshops for the Organic Society.

Not all of the children’s learning occurs in Cathy’s home; they also benefit from involvement in their local community. Some examples include visiting op-shops and attending local events such as the Highland Gathering and a children’s orchestra.

Roberta Jull Family Day Care