Rotorua students putting Heart and Soul into edible gardens

Kaitao Intermediate School in Rotorua recently completed a new edible garden as one of ten winners in this year’s inaugural Keep New Zealand Beautiful Kai Garden Competition.

The competition gives schools and ECEs from across the country the opportunity to create a small kai or rongoā garden to help their students develop a greater understanding of the natural world and to gain hands-on experience gardening for their school.

The garden design was new, and the students named it ‘Heart and Soul‘ to reflect the place the garden has in the school. This new garden supplemented an existing one which was harder to access, and therefore not used as often or integrated into the daily lives of students.

Regan Connor, Hard Materials teacher at Kaitao Intermediate School, said, “A huge driving passion of our concept is that it becomes a part of normality. Students see, use and are a part of the living garden. They are able to identify when plants need tending to and when work needs to be done to maintain our environment and take pride in its appearance. They are able to reap the rewards of fruiting trees and vegetables and share them within our Kura and our community.”

A lot of thought went into how the space can also serve as an outdoor classroom, big enough that several classrooms can be in the one space at once. “The Food Technology teacher will use the garden to gather ingredients to use in her cooking, the ECO Tech teacher will use the area for photography, and the Hard Materials teacher will use the space to encourage students to design furniture/planter boxes,” said Regan. “All other classroom teachers can openly use the space for learning and recreation.”

Being selected as one of the winners for the Kai garden competition allowed our school and students an amazing opportunity that we otherwise would not of been able to experience. It has been a rewarding journey seeing the growth of the area and also the students.”

“Initially students at our school had the impression that we were pohara (poor) because we were growing our own fruit and vegetables ,so it has been a journey to change that mind set. We look forward to continuing on what we have started and have now been given the go ahead the run an enviro class next year. Exciting times ahead.

More info about our Kai Garden Competition can be found here.

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