It felt like a moment from the Wizard of Oz, when KCL Family day care preschoolers put tiny hands to the task of creating a new scarecrow for the BEST Food Garden on Thursday.
The puffy, jovial strawman with big eyes and a wide grin is the second incarnation of the garden mascot, after the first was stolen in 2016. Like his forebear, the new straw man was named for the ABC’s Gardening Australia host Costa Georgiadis.
“Our little kids always say this is their garden, and that’s our scarecrow,” KCL early childhood educator Stacey Hamilton said.
Youngsters Lani, Macon, Stirling and Scarlett, who helped etch in new Costa’s eyebrows, all took part in shoving fistfuls of straw into the coveralls and flannel shirt of the scarecrow with the help of BEST social programs co-ordinator Danny Middleton.
“It’s their scarecrow,” Danny grinned, plunging handfuls of straw into the scarecrow’s coveralls.
Not long after the real Costa’s 2015 visit to the garden, the children helped to assemble the first scarecrow with residents from McLean Care’s dementia wing.
They were shocked to learn the garden’s mascot was stolen from the garden one January night, never to return.
Stacey said she, her KCL colleague Louise Adams, and those who took part in creating the original Costa, were devastated when they got the news all that was left was his pair of boots.
She said having a hand in making a new Costa, and all the garden activities, was very important to the children who don’t always have a veggie patch or chooks at home.
“They all have a go - they just love it, because it’s different than just going outside playing on the play equipment,” Stacey said.
“After we’ve planted all the plants, we might take home some broccoli, or some sweet potatoes, and they get to take home something that they’ve put in.”
Stacey said the Food Garden allowed the preschoolers to establish key benchmarks in their education and life skills.
“Yes, we have sustainability, and recycling,” Stacey said.
“If we know we’re coming up here, we usually collect all the food scraps from the week, bring them up for the chickens and teach the kids: ‘This goes back – the scraps feed the chickens, and the chickens give us eggs at the end of the day’.”
The new Costa is already in place, bowlegged and cheerful, at BEST Food Garden’s Warialda Road fenceline.