The Kōkako Garden at Ōropi School is reaping more than it sows for pupils and the local community.

''It's not just a token school vege plot,'' says principal Andrew King.

''We were fortunate to have passionate community members come and share with staff a vision for the school. Part of this philosophy is about ensuring we provide outdoor learning contexts to trigger learning opportunities that feed into our numeracy and literacy programmes.''

''We want our school environment to be a reflection of the natural diversity in the Ōropi district and so this was a perfect fit.''


Over time the garden had become an expanding resource, he said.

Now there were 15 gardens for growing and harvesting vegetables, a fruit orchard, chickens, beehive, composting system, pizza oven and greenhouse.

Thanks to TECT and the Western Bay Council an outdoor kitchen and shade-sail area would be constructed in the near future.

Andrew says it was important to emphasise it had been and continued to be a collective effort.

''We need buy-in from our community to ensure we strategically plan for it in its present and future state, link it to our curriculum, staff it, and get the resources there to make things happen.''

Another project which was also proving a great success was its Garden to Table programme - where children were involved in the sowing, harvesting and cooking of produce.

Three classes of students were cooking with a teacher on a weekly basis with hopes that would increase.

''The vision is we will have our whole school involved eventually, and it will happen, we just need to think outside the box to know how this will be resourced.''

''Both the maintenance of the gardens and implementation of the learning programme with students requires paid employees and volunteers. We have a regular support group of parents each week, along with volunteers from the community support us with weekend working groups on specific tasks.''

What is the Garden to Table programme?

* It's where students can learn about cooking and eating the produce they have grown.
* They learn to work in a kitchen safely and use appliances.