Growing Kai Gardens for our tamariki

File photo/SunLive.

Iconic charity Keep New Zealand Beautiful has launched their Kai Garden Competition, an opportunity for pre-school, primary and intermediate aged students to design, build and grow an edible garden for their school with up to $15,000 in grants to be won.

The Kai Garden Competition encourages students to focus on (kai) edible and/or rongoā (traditional Māori medicinal) plants, and to use sustainable or reclaimed materials where possible. The 10 winning designs will each receive $1500 towards building and maintaining an edible garden.

The competition has been designed to work in with the New Zealand School Curriculum, but also aims to provide lessons far beyond simply growing a garden such as teaching children about healthy lifestyles, which crops grow best in different environments, seasonal eating, and returning waste to the earth through composting.

“The Kai Garden Competition is a great opportunity to teach environmental kaitiakitanga, or stewardship, helping make students responsible and proud caretakers of their little patch,” says Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson.

The Kai Garden Competition is one of many programmes that makes up Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s strategy, all of which aim to address climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

“We’ve become reliant on vegetables trucked in from far-away destinations, and often shipped or even flown in from overseas to satisfy our demands for out-of-season fruits and vegetables, when a small part of the solution is right there in that vacant plot of garden space,” says Heather.

“Educating and encouraging our schools and tamariki to get dug in, quite literally, by growing and harvesting their own nutritious food will have flow-on effects that can only benefit them, their communities and even the planet well into the future.”

Ultimately, the Kai Garden Competition also aims to make the process of hands-on learning fun and accessible.

“Gardening can be an enjoyable skill that, once acquired, can be a lifelong hobby. Spending time outside, exploring in the soil, watching seeds sprout, and harvesting the bounty can be enjoyable and memorable ways for students to spend their time.

Design entries into the Kai Garden Competition are open until 11.59pm on June 17 and the winners will be announced on June 27.

Visit: for information, inspiration and to enter your school’s design.

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