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Tuesday, 23 April 2019 09:50 am

School kids learn the pleasure of gardening

Apr 29th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News


BIN IT: Lexie Evett, 9, holds up the compost bin lid while Joseph McNaught, 9, at Waterloo School.

TWELVE square metres of raised garden beds at Waterloo School are the latest sign that local children are in action with their environment.

Teacher Leonie Austin is promoting the benefits of growing food to a team of about 30 children called the enviro group and the beds are the result of six months planning.

Local parent Dave McNaught volunteered a day and built 12 square metres of raised beds with money granted from the Parents’ Association.

Clean soil arrives in a week for the children to plant blue lupin and quick winter crops.

“We’ve been talking and planning for ages now so it would be good to get something fast-growing in straight away,” says Ms Austin. She plans for as many enviro group kids and parents to wheelbarrow soil to the raised beds one Saturday morning. “There’s no way I will be able to do it all on my own.”

Ms Austin, 35, has been teaching at Waterloo School for four years and wants the kids to understand where food comes from.

“I get a real buzz picking something from the garden and using it to eat,” she says. “I want the kids to not be divorced from the basic necessities of life.”

Ms Austin thinks a lot of kids wouldn’t know where many foods we eat come from and hopes to “have fun and learn skills they maybe take home with them”.

Waterloo enviro group is based on the Enviro School programme which empowers students by learning about sustainability and diversity of people, culture and communities with Maori awareness.

To achieve bronze, silver and gold standards, whole schools have to get on board and reduce waste, minimise impact and look at where resources have come from. Although Ms Austin’s school isn’t there yet things are progressing well with the help of a very supportive staff.

Principal Graham Sullivan stands behind Ms Austin’s aims and values.

 “I welcome the enthusiasm of her project and that we can all teach kids about taking care and having responsibility of things.”


DIG THIS: From left, Lexie Evett, 9, Joseph McNaught, 9, and teacher Lee Austin with a raised bed ready to be filled.

Ms Austin who also runs a kapa haka group says the inspiration for a garden came from a Hutt City Council project, Take Action For Water, which involved a waste audit earlier last year.

The waste audit prompted the first compost bin and funding for four large timber bins and a worm farm was granted by Hutt City Council, and also a worm farm.

School fairs sold “worm wees”, a potent liquid of castings from hungry worms which were popular on the stall.

Student Emma Doile took her learning home with her and got her whole family on board influencing her dad, who managed New World City supermarket which has since won an award for being a sustainable business, from Wellington City Council.

“That sort of thing is hugely inspirational, made it feel worthwhile,” Ms Austin says. “I’m just a hippie, really, who wants to change the world one garden at a time.”

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is A journalist who loves wide open spaces and fresh air, passionate about the world we live in and keeping our natural world as pristine as we can while still living happily. Responsibility is the first step. Toiti te whenua.
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