For over 100 years, Waitākere Primary School has nurtured the hearts and minds of tamariki. Now it’s the turn of the school’s garden areas. An exciting new initiative to prepare for the Garden to Table programme is underway, led by two exceptional teachers, Tamara Marsh and Leigh Menzies.
Waitākere Primary School has around 500 children on the roll in years 1 to 8. The school is an Enviroschool, and learning about a sustainable, healthy and caring environment is vital to the curriculum.
Situated in the foothills of the Waitākere Ranges, the school is surrounded by lots of green space. According to Leigh, teachers and volunteers have worked hard to upgrade the vegetable garden with new raised beds, and a wide selection of produce, including herbs, peas, kumara and sprouts, is in the pipeline.
‘We have an active garden club at the school,’ reports Leigh. ‘There's no shortage of volunteers; they're like buzzy bees. They just love getting involved,’ she adds.
The school also has an orchard on site, but it was neglected and hard to access from the vegetable garden. However, thanks to funding of $10,000 from the Your West Support Fund, the school now has an all-weather pathway connecting the orchard and veggie garden.
The driving force for the garden upgrades is the Garden to Table programme. This nationwide initiative teaches children how to grow and cook their own fresh, seasonal, and environmentally sustainable kai.
‘We have signed up to Garden to Table and plan to teach our tamariki how to grow food, build healthy soil and use the produce we grow to cook healthy meals,’ advises Leigh. All the building blocks are in place, so the Garden to Table programme can hit the ground running in the new year.
Garden to Table is also fantastic for connecting with the wider school community. ‘We plan to recruit volunteers to work alongside us and support the initiative both in the garden and the kitchen,’ says Leigh.
Now that the orchard pathway has been completed, the school can grow, harvest and cook lots of delicious fresh fruit. And the kids also get to enjoy the beautiful orchard during breaks and lunchtimes.