In November, Garran Primary School won the Sustainable School of the Year award at the inaugural Actsmart Schools Awards.
But as Vice-Principal Sharon Fellows told Canberra Weekly, winning the prestigious award has been years in the making.
Garran Primary has introduced a number of eco-friendly programs since 2009-10 including solar panels, water tanks, Australian natives being planted throughout the school grounds, and various modules on sustainable living taught to all students.
Teacher and program coordinator Mhairi Henderson has championed the cause at Garran, leading many of the programs and initiatives.
“It started out with Mhairi by herself, and now she has a whole community behind her,” Ms Fellows said.
“And a real highlight for me is how Mhairi has brought the kids on board, who are all really excited.”
One of the initiatives at Garran Primary that has managed to inspire the wider community is the eco-warriors program.
One of the roles of the eco-warriors, who function under the guidance of Ms Henderson, is to look after a small community garden patch that grows a variety of fruit, veggies, herbs and edible flowers.
Once a fortnight, the selected group of students will spend a part of their day maintaining the garden, the fruits of their labour reflected in the fact the garden is now cash positive.
Through the sale of strawberries and salad bags, they’ve raised over $1,000 this year alone.
Alongside the gardening, Garran Primary’s eco-warriors also keep the school grounds clean and collect cans for recycling; recently raising $177 in two school terms.
Year 5 student Logan Puric told Canberra Weekly his favourite thing about being an eco-warrior is the sense of pride it gives him.
“People ask me about what I get to do … it makes you proud to be sustainable and to be a role model,” he said.
It’s not just those selected for eco-warriors who receive a hands-on education in sustainable living. Garran Primary incorporates it into the curriculum for all of their students, running modules on recycling, cooking, animals, energy and even the varying demands of sustainable housing around the world.