We are primary school teachers who have been described as ‘pioneers’ in the school garden movement, having had a long association with garden-based learning. Carolyn began making gardens with the children in her class in the early 1990s and Janet well before that.
In 2006, we met at The Learning in the Garden Conference in Adelaide where we were presenters. Carolyn was a keynote speaker alongside Stephanie Alexander and Jude Fanton, both distinguished in the field.

Book Launch with Jerry Coleby Williams

Book Launch with Jerry Coleby Williams

On our return to Queensland, we decided to work together to write a book that would meet the bourgeoning need for information about school gardens.  At the time, there were few references for teachers. Carolyn had published A Children’s Food Forest: An Outdoor Classroom in 1996, however, there was a need for a comprehensive book on gardening at school.  A whole range of issues that needed attention was surfacing in schools.


Janet Millington was born and raised in Oatley, was a primary teacher in Sydney South West for 22 years and received her Masters of Education in Creative Arts before moving to South East Queensland.  Janet founded The Eumundi Bamboo Forest as an educational facility for learning in sustainability and the arts which has now been delivering workshops and courses from Certificate to Diploma level for 15 years. She has designed many school gardens and worked with teachers in many regions to provide engaging and authentic learning experiences for children of all ages. Janet co-authored “Outdoor Classrooms” & one of her greatest achievements has been supporting teachers and parents in recognizing the potential to teach not only garden and food science but the entire curriculum from the school garden. Over 2000 schools are using the text to start and maintain school gardens that has proven to be a rewarding experience for the children and their teachers. Janet is now planning supplementary materials to support teachers when following the Outdoor Classroom Initiative. Janet presented at the 5th World Environment Education Congress in Montreal describing this uniquely Australian innovation of environmental and sustainability education which is simple yet profound. She believes, “Children need to intJanet Millingtoneract with nature regularly, they need to have a transaction with nature daily. This must be observing and interacting so as to obtain a yield or to restore a natural balance, not just an infrequent “visit” to nature”. Janet is now researching her new paper which involves a study of the causes and possible solutions to the steep increase in Sociopathy in our western culture. She is linking this to recent studies in brain plasticity and hopes to provide scientific support for the need for children to interact with nature from a very early age. “Perhaps there is no greater thing we can do for our children than to ensure they receive their birthright, a love and understanding of nature and a knowledge of their place in it.” (J. Millington 2009.)



Carolyn BCPCAROLYN NUTTALL is acknowledged as one of the pioneers of garden-based learning in schools. Her discovery of the benefits of school gardens for teaching and learning began in 1992, when the young children in her class made a small no-dig edible garden in the grounds of their Brisbane school. This activity captured the minds of the children who, over the year, went on to create a huge permaculture food forest – an outdoor classroom filled with the lessons of the classroom and experiences of the natural world.

She was approached by the Permaculture Institute to document her work. The outcome has been the publication of two books and a series of worksheets for the classroom. “A Children’s Food Forest: an outdoor classroom 1996”, “The Food Forest Worksheets. 2003” and “Outdoor Classrooms: a handbook for school gardens 2008” which she co-wrote with Janet Millington.

Carolyn’s ideas for teaching the young have been acknowledged globally with translations of her books, visits and sales world-wide.

She remains active promoting the school garden as a prime exemplar for teaching sustainability, individual resourcefulness and self-reliance –  the skills, she believes, that are needed for an uncertain future.
Carolyn Nuttall B.Ed St  Grad.Dip.Ed St   PDC