We hope to help establish and support biochar based school projects in NZ. Biochar offers a diverse range of educational opportunities for all age ranges…
- the application of physics and chemistry associated with pyrolysis technologies
- practical biochar production…
- clean cook stove research, fabrication and application (TLUD)
- anthropology and history associated with charcoal production and applications
- practical biochar application – gardening, controlled experiments
IBI have developed … http://www.biochar-international.org/teachers/schools
In NZ, Enviroschools are always keen to offer new learning opportunities to the students. Many already have well-established gardens, and incorporate lessons on growing and cooking healthy food, soil science, conservation and sustainability. Introducing the topics listed above would be a step that BIG-NZ could contribute to.
One school in Lower Hutt has introduced a comprehensive programme, independently of Enviroschools. Common Unity featured on RadioNZ on 12 May, during a discussion on the proposed “Feed the Kids” free lunches in low-decile schools programme. http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ideas/ideas-20130512-1010-ideas_for_12_may_2013-00.ogg
It was heart-warming to hear Julia Milne, the initiator of the project, talking about the effects on the whole community around the school, and to listen to the children themselves enthusing over the pot of nutritious soup they had made and served themselves, and were consuming with such relish.
The facilitators of the project dream that one day they can feed the children healthy lunches every day, and hand over the whole project to the community. It would need one paid facilitator to manage the garden and the kitchen with the children, and to organise parent helpers.
Julia Milne: “I think it’s an incredibly cheap solution to feeding our children. I think developing our schools into community hubs where everyone can share and learn… We need to move away from this idea that a school is just somewhere that we leave our children at the start of the day, and move back into the idea that schools really create the heart of communities, and that they are open for – not just for children to learn things, but for adults as well.”
This inspired project leader is well aware of biochar, and keen to incorporate it into the school garden. She also sees the potential for using biochar to teach basic practical physics, chemistry and a host of hand-craft skills. Even young children can be involved in making and using simple TLUD stoves, learning about combustion, oxygen and carbon dioxide, atmospheric carbon pollution, climate change, soil biology, humus formation and its importance in food quality. Imagine learning all that and more, while having fun making TLUDs, growing veges, eating warm, healthy food every day, feeling active and strong, and being part of a growing vigorous community of parents, relatives, neighbours and friends!
Julia and others like her around the country are dreaming this dream and bringing it to reality already. Biochar has a role to play in this exciting dream.