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Community effort creates outdoor 'classroom'

Thursday, 17 April 2014 9:28 a.m.

Kawaha Point Primary School children have a new outdoor “classroom” tucked away on the boundary of the school field – a vegetable patch and a native garden.

It’s part of the school’s desire to teach the children about sustainability and the environment and the native garden was officially opened today (Wednesday 16 April) with the whole school attending the cutting of the ribbon.

Among those helping to lead the school’s efforts are 10-year-old Cody Bryson and 9-year-old Moana Purser. They’re already keen gardeners and are enjoying the opportunity to get their hands in the dirt and pass on their knowledge.

The vege garden and native area are a chance to “get out of the classroom and out into the sun”, Cody says.

“You learn all about about growing things and about trees, birds and insects – it’s cool for the school to have the garden and native area. Sometimes we get to eat some of what we grow.”

Moana, who has her own vege patch at home, says gardening is fun. “You can watch seeds grow and it’s interesting.”

She says weta have been spotted in the native area and she hopes native birds will also be encouraged to move in.

The school received funding to establish the native area through the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Environmental Enhancement Fund and also had a lot of help from local businesses which donated material and time and from members of the wider community who went along to working bees to help establish the vege patch and the native area.

New entrants teacher Dana Thompson, who is in charge of the projects, said the support of the business and wider community had been “fantastic” and the regional council had provided valuable advice and support as well as funding.

“This has been a real community effort,” she said.

The native area was planted by senior students at the school after non-native trees were removed and other students helped move bark and will be involved in the upkeep of the area, which includes a path.

To help keep the projects going, some of the vegetables from the school’s garden are sold and seeds are collected from some plants to grow new seedlings.

Mrs Thompson says there are plans to create a sensory garden elsewhere on the school grounds and to install a kitchen where the children can cook and eat what they’ve grown.

“The children have been very engaged and interested in the vege garden project and the native area will provide extra opportunities to learn. It’s a great asset for the school and the community.”

About the Environmental Enhancement Fund

  • Provides up to $25,000 in seed funding for community-based environmental projects in the Bay of Plenty.
  • Aims to improve the environment; raise environmental awareness; use the enthusiasm and skills of the community; and achieve excellence in environmental outcomes.
  • Provides financial and technical support for projects whose main purpose is to directly promote, enhance or protect natural or historic (including cultural) character and/or full and free public access and/or public understanding of the region's environment.
  • Open to community groups, iwi/hapū, incorporated societies, community trusts, resident and ratepayer groups, landowner groups, individuals, educational institutes, businesses/industry.

-Ends

Kawaha School garden