Feeding minds and bodies

By Joseph Aldridge

The children of Papamoa Free Kindergarten love getting their hands dirty.

They know where their food comes from and how good food helps them grow.

"Healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people," they chant.

The children's enthusiastic embrace of backyard vegetable gardening, sustainable practices and healthy eating has seen them win a $2500 prize, one of three winners from around New Zealand.

The competition was run by Enviroschools, sponsored by food company Mother Earth and judged by Niki Bezzant, editor of Healthy Food Guide magazine.

Ms Bezzant said she loved the kindergarten's focus on healthy soil.

"I think it was a really inspired thing to do, to get kids to focus on the food from the ground up.

"I also thought it was amazing to see, I think most parents would agree, kids eating seconds of broccoli. If you can achieve that then you're doing a great thing for the future."

Kindergarten teacher Donya Feci said the children were keen to eat their own produce and just needed a little bit of encouragement to eat the green vegetables they would normally avoid. Recently, they harvested silverbeet grown on-site and cooked it up with eggs from the chickens who also live at the kindy.

Led by Ms Feci, the kindy has built vegetable gardens, developed a rainwater harvesting system, built a chicken coup, set up a worm farm and several compost bins.

The children have been fully involved with the composing process and now understand how good soil produces good food.

Ms Feci said the children were excited to have won the prize and there were a number of ideas about how to spend the money.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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