It was 2017 when Unity College started keeping bees. Not just native bees but European honey bees. The bees became the focus of the Certificate 2 and 3 Business students who harvested and packaged the honey. Over the coming years, the project continued to grow, with the students establishing a small business under the name Mil Hut.
“The bees provided a wonderful model of teamwork, focus, dedication and the importance of being great at your job and role,” said Gillian Meyers, Vocational Education and Training Co-Ordinator at Unity College. “Working with the beehives allowed the students in the business classes to contribute to a range of products under the Mil Hut umbrella, and students continued to explore a range of business concepts through this model.”
The Co-Op Cafe
With a growing need for a place to sell Mil Hut products, the Co-Op Café was opened on the Unity College campus.
“The Co-Op Café is a purpose-built training space that supports the partnership of College business and hospitality training programs, local businesses and entrepreneurship,” explained Gillian. “It is where business and hospitality meet (quite literally) through the guiding principles of being ‘Local, Sustainable and Innovative’.”
The partnerships are key to providing students with industry skills, knowledge and an understanding of expectations. The College consciously chooses to partner with local businesses that are passionate about sustainable practices and innovative thinking. Today, business students keep the retail space stocked with honey from the College hives as well as a range of carefully chosen items to complement the environment. The Co-Op Café also serves drinks and food items sourced from local providers or from the College’s hospitality students.
“The Co-Op Café is sustained by a manager, student traineeships, and students from various curriculum areas, who now use the environment as an excellence in learning experience,” said Gillian. “The Co-op Café also provides a safe space for students and other members of the Unity College community to trial business and product ideas. Students are mentored through different business models and strategies that suit their product.”
Unity College Urban Farm
This year Unity College celebrates the year of ‘Sacred Earth’. In keeping with the sustainability and innovation around the bees and the Co-Op Café, an urban farm project is being established.
“We have big plans for raised market garden beds, worm farms, composting, vertical gardens, a mini orchard, hydroponics, recycling stations, chickens and an outdoor kitchen,” said Gillian. “Students from across Prep to Year 12 classes will take ownership of various projects within the farm setting and design. It is envisaged that students will develop grit and work readiness skills through the practical application of their curriculum incorporating maths, art and design, plant, animal and environmental sciences, and sustainability.”
Family and neighbourhood partnerships will provide mutual skill sharing and build stronger community relationships.
“The urban farm aims to engage students and their families in an active learning community where the values of respect for themselves, other living things and the environment are developed and strengthened,” continued Gillian. “Students will experience the cycle of sustainable produce from farm to kitchen to plate, inspiring entrepreneurial and innovative thinking alongside stewardship for our earth.” For more information about the programs at Unity College, visit www.uc.qld.edu.au.