Small Te Kuiti school completes Kai Garden project

Piripiri School completes Kai Garden project

Piripiri School in Te Kuiti has recently created a new edible garden as one of ten winners in this year’s 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 (traditional Māori medicine) garden to help their students develop a greater understanding of the natural world and to gain hands-on experience gardening for their school.

Principal Release Teacher Louise Wycherley says the school wanted to take part in the Kai Garden Competition as an extension of Te Whare Tapa Whā, a wellbeing education model that the school had introduced in term one of this year.

“The garden project fits well with all aspects of wellbeing. As part of the model students adopted a tree on the school grounds to become kaitiaki of and their challenge is to make the tree flourish through their care and guardianship.”

With a role of just eight students the school named the garden project the ‘Piripiri P.R.I.D.E Garden’ which is taken from the school’s values of ‘positive participation, respect, inspire and inquire, determination and excellence’.

The garden is located close to the main school building where the children enjoy lunch. The aim of the project was to enhance an existing area of the school which was underutilised, where fruit trees were not flourishing, and create a ‘green and tasty link’ from the main school hub to the playground and beyond.

Ms Wycherley says; “We would like our ākonga to engage with this part of the school, to develop their sense of kaitiakitanga through care of their adopted tree and to build their knowledge so that they are capable and knowledgeable food growers for life.”

The project was undertaken by the entire school including staff and whānau. There was an opportunity for students to get involved in all aspects of the project, from choosing which plants they wanted to grow, to planting the seedlings and building the garden beds.

The children planted a variety of both edible plants and those that will attract bees for pollination and others which will help fix the soil quality, as well as undertaking pest control to stop rabbits, hares, possums, slugs, snails and birds attacking the crops.

“The kai we produce will give us the opportunity to learn about food preparation and our aim is that students will be able to go home with a ready made delicious salad or veggies and fruit for the dinner table, as well as supplementing lunches at school,” says Ms Wycherley.

“I am very proud of the work the students and volunteers have done to bring this garden to a kind of conclusion. The plants are small as we grew them from seed but we are happy to see our possum trapping has allowed our trees to flower and fruit for the first time in years.

“The work is ongoing but this has been a great start to have the tamariki engaged in the process of transformation. We are excited now to watch the beds fill out and produce for the students. Hopefully we will all get a nice surprise in the New Year!”

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

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