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Kids learn extra value of having ‘green fingers’

Oct 13th, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News


Gardeners: Shereef Williams, Rueben Goodley, Jade Werahiko, Waylon Tuhoro-Robinson, Rachel Wood-Walker

TRENTHAM School has found a new way to engage students in learning, to improve their literacy through gardening.

The gardening club – which consists of one student from each class of years four to six – is learning how to grow vegetables and flowers, which is also helping them with reading and literacy skills.

For instance, the students wrote thank you letters to the two fathers who dug the foundations and errected the newly purchased shed.


Teacher aid Kerry Rice teaches flower dead-heading.

They also read the instructions on the back of vegetable seed packets so they know how to plant and water them.

Teacher Jane Tito says exercises like these help students find reasons for using their writing skills instead of activities in which they see no benefit.

They recently received a $5000 regional public health well-being grant, some of which was used for buying a shed and soil as well as to pay teacher aid Kerry Rice.

Vegetable plants such as cauliflower, broccoli, beans, pumpkin and potatoes have been bought to put in the garden.

Every Wednesday and Thursday afternoon students spend about 45 minutes outside working on their gardens and the same amount of time in class learning about nutrition and the logistics of gardening.

The 13 students involved recently learnt about companion planting, which is putting plants such as marigolds with vegetables so that bugs eat the flowers, not the vegetables.


Rueben Goodley, Cameron Stevens and Aquila Winiata-Matene

They spend time in the school computer suites on rainy days doing research about food pyramids and the good food they should be eating.

Ms Tito says she hopes students will be able to cook whatever they grow, making soup and other healthy dishes.

A gardening club was set up last year and ran at lunch times. However, there was no funding, which made it hard to get started.

There are also “planters” spread around the school containing flowers such as pansies, roses and primulas, which are taken care of by students who have learnt how to deadhead and water them.

Ms Tito says there is a chance the students will be able to paint a mural on the dilapidated fence which surrounds the gardens.


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is a Whitireia Journalism graduate who loves writing, computers, cooking reading and creating controversy, something she did frequently during her time at Whitireia.
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