Entries have opened to the Young Gardener of the Year Awards and Kiwi kids nationwide, along with their primary schools, are encouraged to enter.

A new category this year, called the T&G Passion for Growing Award, means that any primary school can enter the awards even if they aren't part of the Garden to Table programme yet.

So if your school is just starting its gardening venture, it's worth an entry as some epic prizes are up for grabs for the winning school.

Prizes include: a garden design from landscape and garden designer Dan Mackay, along with a year's online membership to the Garden to Table programme.


This gives students at the winning school the chance to continue their passion in the garden with greater curriculum support, child-friendly recipes using produce from their garden, kitchen skills instruction videos and support material for gardening through to cooking.

The awards, which attracted nearly 70 entries for the first time last year, are supported by T&G, New Zealand's largest fresh produce grower, and Garden to Table which enables and encourages primary schools and children to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh food.

The 2018 edition will mark the first official campaign for Garden to Table's new landscape and gardening ambassador, Dan Mackay who owns and operates his very own local Auckland landscaping solutions business, Ministry of Ground.

Mackay joins fellow Garden to Table ambassador, chef and restaurateur Al Brown on the judging panel alongside T&G's executive general manager New Zealand Andrew Keaney and Garden to Table executive officer Linda Taylor.

T&G's Jo Jalfon, who manages the awards with Garden to Table, said Mackay will make a fabulous addition to the judging team and will bring a wealth of gardening knowledge with him to the growing competition.

Best known for his appearance as resident landscape and gardening expert on TVNZ's home and garden reality series HOMEmade, Dan loves to encourage "eating your garden" and adds fruits and vegetables to all his designs.

Dan was excited to share his love of gardening and sustainable living with schools.

"I'm stoked to be involved with the Young Gardener Awards, it's such an awesome way to show our school kids that success doesn't just lie in the classroom and on the sports field and anything that gets kids excited about exploring what they can do in the garden is a win by me.


"It's also great to help kids see that fruit and veges don't just magically appear at the supermarket."

There are four categories for budding primary schools and students to enter:

1. The T&G Garden to Table Established School of the Year Award for schools and students that have been gardening for more than two years through the Garden to Table programme.

2. The T&G Garden to Table Emerging School of the Year Award for primary schools who have been gardening through the Garden to Table programme for two years or less.

3. The T&G Garden to Table Young Gardener of the Year Awards which recognise the efforts of five passionate young gardeners who have planted a seed, watered it, made sure it's getting the right amount of sunlight; even jumped up and down when the first leaves sprouted. Five young gardeners will walk away with the coveted title of 2018 Young Gardener of the Year.

4. The T&G Passion for Growing Award — this first-time award for 2018 is open to all primary schools nationwide that aren't already part of Garden to Table. It recognises the passion many Kiwi schools and students have for growing and preparing healthy produce even if they're not part of the Garden to Table programme.

With plenty of incredible prizes up for grabs, schools and students are urged to start digging into the entry website now and taking pictures of their garden before the winter really sets in and the greenery fades.