A community project led by Oropi School and Good Neighbour Trust has just received a massive boost, thanks to the support of keen local volunteers at a working bee event over the weekend.
Over the past two years, Oropi School has been developing a garden and outdoor kitchen project for both students and the wider community.
The project, named Kokako, embodies the school's vision to provide more hands-on, experiential learning in an outdoor setting.
Project co-ordinator Amandine Monsaingeon says the project is one step closer to completion.
“The garden build itself was led by the amazing Good Neighbour team. This involved resurfacing the area and building raised wicking garden beds according to a design being implemented by them in several other community gardens.
“The organisation was sublime and the turn-out was outstanding in spite of less than ideal conditions with steady rain and ground flooding.”
More than 40 volunteers showed up for the cause, including five members of the Tauranga Rotary Club, the Good Neighbour team, members of the Oropi School community and a large number of volunteers including two keen workers from Tauranga Moana Night Shelter, a beneficiary of Good Neighbour activities.
“There was a real buzz in the air, everyone seemed so happy to be a part of this exciting initiative, whether wheelbarrowing heavy loads through the mud, building a scarecrow with the children or catering for everyone.
“An enormous amount of work was completed in the space of 5 hours. It was a beautiful example of the power of community.
“It is becoming obvious that this kind of get together is a real source of joy for many. We are all eager to further connect with our neighbourhood and collaborate on meaningful projects, to take responsibility for a healthier, happier future.
“Good Neighbour provided a very generous amount of food and drinks thanks to the Food Rescue part of their organisation, which kept the troops well fed and watered with morning tea and a BBQ lunch.”
Amandine says the support of the Good Neighbour community is unquestionable.
“Working with the support of Good Neighbour since July has taken our project to the next level, facilitated so many precious connections in the community and opened new horizons of possibilities for the school.
“Good Neighbour's effect on our local communities is incredible,” she says.
“They are not only initiating positive change and meeting essential needs through their various initiatives; Neighbourhood projects, Food Rescue and Community Gardens, but they are also inspiring more people outside their organisation to be part of this rewarding endeavour to regenerate our communities from the ground up, creating a strong web of connections, a support network for all.
“Oropi school is also very grateful for the very generous support we have received from NZ Manuka, who have gifted an enormous amount of beautiful Kolush manuka mulch for the gardens, as well as a fantastic donation from the IT team's fundraising initiative at Balance Agri-Nutrients.
“The school is also excited to announce they have recently been successful in receiving $50,000 from TECT to fund the development of the garden kitchen, next step of the Kokako Project.
“As of term one 2018, Oropi school will be working in partnership with Garden to Table, a wonderful organisation already supporting many schools across the country in integrating gardening and cooking into the curriculum.
“The school is really looking forward to further working with Andrea Green currently in charge of Good Neighbour's community gardens, who is also taking the role of Garden to Table coordinator for the Tauranga area.
“We are very excited to be the first school to embrace this fabulous programme in the region, and we hope to inspire more schools into taking similar initiatives, increasing local resilience, a sense of belonging to a caring community and instilling in children a sense of responsibility to their own health, to that of the environment.”