From Little Things Big Things Grow

11 March 2024

There’s a new B&B in the area but not as we traditionally know it. PlantingSeeds is a not-for-profit sustainability program with a mission to help threatened pollinators and plants by creating local B&B Highways: Bed and Breakfasts for Birds, Bees and Biodiversity.

Through a Community Bank Samford grant, the program has blossomed in the Samford and Pine Rivers Region, through partnerships with local schools.

“By working in schools to ‘join the dots’ by planting native species and attracting birds, bees and other pollinators, we can help regeneration. The more schools, the more regeneration,” PlantingSeeds Founder & CEO, Dr Judy Friedlander, said.

“This Community Bank Samford grant has enabled the highway to extend in this vital region. We are aware of pressures of human urban development and we need to impart and teach skills in local plants and pollinators and how to identify and evaluate our initiatives. This funding has helped enable that locally,” she said.

“The Samford area is very beautiful with many areas of thick forest and farmland close to the small town so both amenities and nature are very accessible. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of deforestation for development. There are lots of opportunities to support and enhance unique species and biodiversity.”

PlantingSeeds worked with students at Strathpine State School, Strathpine West State School, Pine Rivers Special School, and Samford Valley Steiner School to plant native plants on school grounds and provide constructed habitats.

Each school had its own special connection to environment. Adjacent to a nature reserve and creek, Strathpine State School is no stranger to a local koala in its school trees. Strathpine West State School created campus corridors to extend opportunities for pollinators. Pine Rivers Special School sits in a koala corridor, placing it in a unique position to help local wildlife. Each student at Samford Valley Steiner School engages in the vegetable patch as part of their lessons, making observations about animals that visit the gardens regularly.

“Our program is both educational and practical and the resources, developed with the Department of Education and the CSIRO’s Atlas of Living Australia, are evidence-based,” Dr Friedlander said.

“Students learn about the special species in their area and how they can plant shrubs, ground covers and trees to attract native birds and insects. Additionally, they learn how to take citizen science observations to upload to the Atlas of Living Australia.”

The program has been buzzing with positive feedback from other regions where it has cultivated roots.

“We implemented the B&B Highway program in eight schools in the City of Parramatta in NSW and then was asked to extend the program in five more schools,” Dr Friedlander said.

“Some corporates are starting to take notice and we offer a ‘Lunch and Learn’ session with the companies then sponsoring schools in their area.”

Through its positive, practical and scalable programs, PlantingSeeds is countering biodiversity loss one seedling at a time, with the team under Dr Friedlander teaching a new generation the importance of treading lightly in the future.

“Students and teachers know they are contributing to something local, and larger, in a real highway of regeneration. We hope to do many more educational and practical sessions with Samford as a pivotal hub!”

Dr Judy Friedlander and Mandy Bell

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