Comments from students

Western Sydney University Academic:
It was great learning for the students.  I do think the presence of EarthCare on the Hawkesbury campus is a valuable asset for Western Sydney University and would be keen to involve you in future Schools Engagement programs.

Western Sydney University Student:

Through one of my units this semester called Education for Sustainability I traveled to the Earthcare Centre for a field trip and listened to you give a marvelous talk about how it works and the benefits of its existence for the community.


Pathways to Dreaming Students:

The feedback was positive and the students have gained a lot of benefit from taking part in the activities. Connecting to the soil and growing food. One teacher told said that the students loved it and could barely drag themselves away!


Academic Course Advisor, Master of Education, (Social Ecology) Western Sydney University:

Education and Sustainability: Many thanks for the session on Friday. It’s always great for the students to get a hands-on sense of the simple everyday things they can do to promote sustainability as well as ideas for things they might take up in schools when they become teachers." Senior LecturerSchool of Education.

Student Teachers:


The field trip to Hawkesbury this week has allowed me to deepen my understanding of sustainability, in particular, environmental sustainability. Directly observing sustainable practices at EarthCare highlighted the extent in which we rely on our environments resources for our everyday needs. It has made me understand how far removed from self-sufficiency we actually are as a society. The push to be economically dominant has consequently driven us to a synthetic lifestyle. Society has adopted the belief that to have a 'good life' we must be modified and improved (Ball, J. McCabe, K, 2011). When in fact, our quality of life is decreasing and incidence of disease, physical and mental illness is on the rise (Ball, J. McCabe, K, 2011). The field trip has highlighted how conscious design that mimics the natural flows of nature can contribute to sustainability (Holmgren, 2007). I will continue to compost and as a teacher, I will ensure students understand the importance of compost and worm farms and educate them on what materials they use in their everyday lives can actually go back into the environment.


The field trip to Hawkesbury EarthCare Centre was insightful to say the least. What I found to be the most interesting was the vegetable and herb garden, as I never knew what the importance of growing your own crops can be and how it can affect the environment. Since visiting the EarthCare Centre I learned that by growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs organically you minimize the amount of chemicals and pesticides feeding into the earth and waterways. Supporting local farmers and purchasing organic produce from farmers markets can also minimize these impacts on the environment. We have a vegetable and herb garden at home that my mum usually takes care of but since visiting the EarthCare Centre I want to start helping out and growing some more vegetables that we regularly use while cooking. As a teacher I will teach the students about the importance of organically grown produce and by having a vegetable and herb patch in the school the students will be able to actually grow their own vegetables and herbs and have a hands on learning experience.



The excursion allowed me to see how easily sustainability can be achieved at home. Through the construction of ecologically sustainable buildings, using low energy consumption materials, such as mud brick and straw, we are able to reduce our environmental impact substantially. Features such as solar water heating, energy efficient light bulbs and sustainable toilets are also excellent additions to living sustainably. The design of the garden with the most used plants closest to the home was interesting. The use of worms to create compost was excellent to see as I do the same at home. Organically grown produce at the site (snow peas, etc) tasted great and has encouraged me to think about ways in which I can start growing organic veggies at my house in addition to the organic fruit we already grow. I would love to incorporate organic gardening into my teaching at school by creating a garden that can be tied in with sustainability lessons.

Comments: 1
  • #1

    Marianne (Friday, 30 October 2015 21:10)

    Hawkesbury EarthCare Centre campaign to save it.

    Volunteering has always been a strong tradition in Australia, now a University of Adelaide study* and has revealed the true extent of its monetary value as more than $200 billion a year, that is more than all mining revenues. and agriculture combined. The nation would simply grind to a halt without that input into our economy, not to mention our essential social structures and the integrity of our natural world.

    For instance, could one entity afford to pay the work done by the many keen volunteers who have unstintingly put their hearts and efforts into demonstrating the principles and practicalities of sustainability living at the Hawkesbury EarthCare Centre for over twenty years and also welcomed students, schools, locals and international visitors alike to share the experience? Perhaps not.

    Apart from the delight of the productive gardens, including the delicious fruit of the feijoa and Chinese raisin trees, and the yearlong comfort of the earth building, the members and visitors feel a warmth of welcome at this natural place on the old Hawkesbury Agriculture College site . The Chancellor of what is now Western Sydney University came for lunch a couple of years ago and seemed very impressed, delegations from Asia and elsewhere always seem delighted to have visited and the locals flock to the markets and fairs ... What a shame to think this could all be lost to commercial interests. With a bit of an effort one can always make a garden elsewhere, though the fruit trees would be lost, but there is just not the muscle power to rebuild our wonderful mud brick and straw bale EarthCare home again, just far too much hard work when young things are so busy these days. It is irreplaceable.

    The University would no doubt gain some real estate, but perhaps lose far more in global goodwill and enthusiasm from realists like those who started the permaculture movement in Australia in 1970, decades before it became as relevant and urgent as it is today and from those who see the vast need for practical examples of what can be achieved with ancient methods as well as modern technologies to support the transition to a newer way of dealing with the exigencies of the future.
    * https://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news55621.html
    Marianne Hafeli's photo.