Many schools have already established gardens, recognising the opportunities that gardening provides to foster children’s social and physical development and an interest in healthy eating. Gardening is a practical activity that most children enjoy; it provides an opportunity for very active children to use their energy productively and links into many curriculum areas such as health and science, as well as history and social studies, including tikanga Maori.
A school garden also offers a way in which parents and other family members can become more engaged with the school and their children’s learning. Parents with expertise in growing different foods may be happy to help in the gardens and/or provide advice. School gardens can become a source of inspiration for children and parents alike, and the creation of a garden in a school often leads to families who did not previously grow food starting their own vegetable gardens at home.
The links below are to stories about school gardening success stories:
At the two links link Holly Jean-Brooker writes about how the school gardens established at East Tamaki Primary School has benefited the children and the wider community as families have taken up gardening, while at the next link Jessie Colquhoun’s discovers that the gardening project has improved children’s descriptive writing and social skills.
This link describes how four students and one teacher at St Joseph’s school in Hamilton, have helped to create a garden that is now an important part of the school’s identity.
At this link you can find a video called: The Coming of Greytown School Orchard
Special Offer for School Gardens
Koanga Gardens offers a special price Community Garden Membership for school and marae gardens which includes some heirloom seeds plus two books on organic gardening.
In New Zealand there are a number of organisations that can help with school gardening projects in New Zealand in terms of providing support or resources or funding.
The Nelson Environment Centre
The Nelson Environment Centre offers a programme called Kids Edible Gardens in Schools (KEGS). In 2011, a registered teacher has been employed to help run the programme by facilitating the programme in two school and assisting teachers in other schools. For more information, visit its website is below:
Fruit Trees for Auckland
This group of volunteers is raising money so that they can supply fruit trees to school and early childhood centres that request a tree as well as plant fruit trees on council owned land such as gass verges and teach people how to look after them. If you would like a fruit tree for your school or early childhood centre you can sign up at this link http://www.fruittrees.org.nz/signup-school/ or for one on the verge outside your house, register your interest at this link http://www.fruittrees.org.nz/signup/ For more information see http://www.fruittrees.org.nz/
Garden to Table programme
The Garden to Table programme provides support for schools that want to involve children in producing, cooking, serving and enjoying healthy foods. For more information, visit its website is below:
World Wildlife Fund
The World Wildlife Fund is a source of funding for environmentally beneficial projects in schools such as establishing organic gardens. To date it has supported 35 schools in their gardening projects. WWF disburses funds to organisations such as the Nelson Environment Centre, and schools can also apply to the WWF for funding for specific projects.
The Royal Society
The Royal Society provides some funding grants for environmental science based activities, including setting up worm farms, science equipment (such as that needed to study weather), purchase of books related to ecology etc. In the past it has given funds for the planting of native plants to provide food and habitat for native birds and butterflies, so a permaculture forest to supply food for people that also included native plants that are important for native birds and butterflies may also be funded.
For more information and how to apply see this link: http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/programmes/funds/bayer-primary-school-science-fund/
(Senior high school students who want to work in a project that involves environmental research or restoration may also apply for individual scholarships to find their work. Students are responsible for finding a host organisation with which to work.) See http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/programmes/funds/bayerboost/
School gardens may potentially provide a useful teaching laboratory for practical scientific research projects at different levels of the school curriculum. Students may work towards the Royal Society’s CREST programmme. (See: http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/teaching-learning/crest/ ). Past CREST projects have included Charlotte Robertson’s project which examined whether how efficiently watercress removes dissolved nitrates from water (with a view to seeing whether it could be used to help reduce water pollution) http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/teaching-learning/crest/gold/recipients/2011/2011-gold-crest-recipient-charlotte-robertson/. Another notable project has been using barley waste from a brewery to make biodegraadble containers by a team from Kavanagh College. See: http://www.techlink.org.nz/student-showcase/food-and-biological/Grain-Brains.htm
The Soil and Health Association
The Soil and Health Association (a 70 year old organisation dedicated to promoting organic growing and farming and the publisher of Organic Nz magazine) has established a Project Gro (http://www.organicnz.org/projectgro/) – a fund to support organic gardening in schools. Money donated to Project Gro has supported the Ecomatters Environment Trust ( www.ecomatters.org.nz ) to help schools in West Auckland establish organic gardens. Members of the Soil and Health Association may also be available to help with school gardens; please call the association on 09 419 4536 in Auckland or email firstname.lastname@example.org and the organisation will help you find a volunteer in your area.
Organic gardening workshops, books and teachers resources
Dee Pigneguy, who is a member of the National Council of the Soil and Health Association – and author of the books Growing Gardeners, Gardening for Planet Earth and Feed Me Right (with Dee Pigneguy) see below – offers low cost consultations for schools which want to set up organic gardens. Her website is http://www.feedmeright.co.nz/. The page for schools is http://www.feedmeright.co.nz/schools.html. She also offers organic gardening courses http://www.feedmeright.co.nz/
Dee’s books also include a teachers’ guide based on her book Feed Me Right. The Feed Me Right Teacher’s Resource is packed with lesson plans, activities and work sheets and wall charts giving teachers the opportunity to develop and use the nutritional and science ideas in Feed Me Right with students of all ages. For more information about this and the other books see this link: http://www.feedmeright.co.nz/books.html
The following link is to a PDF on how to set up a school garden:
The Soil and Health book club (see http://www.organicnz.org/bookclub/ ) has a number of excellent books on organics. Those that are particularly useful for schools include:
A Worm’s Eye View of Recycling (suitable for primary school students) and a bargain at only $5
Organic Gardening A Guide by Organic NZ (only $9.90) or it available as a free download chapter by chapter starting from this link: http://www.organicnz.org/60/organic-gardening/
A Tohunga’s Natural World: Plants, Gardening and Food by Dr Paul Moon (secondary school level) is also available from the Soil and Health book club.
Other educational opportunities
Teachers may wish to visit the Education and Training page of this site which lists a large number of free or low cost opportunities to learn about organic gardening that may be helpful for themselves, their students or their students’ parents.