The initiative was part of a wider programme of upgrades to the school’s buildings and environment. And according to principal Maria Dopheide, the gardens had been long neglected and urgently needed a new lease of life.
Freyberg Community School is a primary school for years 0-6 and has around 390 students. It’s located in Te Atatū South at the mouth of the Whau River and overlooks the Waitematā Harbour. ‘We’re tucked away,’ says Maria, ‘and feel more like a rural school in the middle of suburbia.’
However, its secluded, country-like location only highlighted the sorry state of the school's gardens. Freyberg Community School applied to the Your West Support Fund for help and received $5,000 to kickstart the garden overhaul.
‘We used the funding to hire a landscape gardener, purchase gardening equipment and invest in plants and flowers,’ explains Maria.
She says the landscaper worked with students to create colourful displays with a mix of edible plants and flowers. The work also involved preparing the ground, removing old tree stumps and lots of mulching.
The students took a particular interest in the gardens outside their classrooms, with each class striving to outdo the others. Maria says the tamariki enjoyed getting their hands dirty and helped with the planting.
‘The result is fantastic! The whole school community is delighted,’ declares Maria.
Now students, whānau and visitors are greeted by a vibrant, welcoming display of plants and flowers.
The school hopes to use the gardens to encourage learning about nature and how to care for the environment. Sustainability and the environment are essential aspects of the curriculum. Maria says the flowerbeds will help bring these critical messages to life for students.