Kaitaia Primary School teacher Zoë Brown is hardly alone in inspiring her pupils to take an interest in gardening, but she is starting right at the beginning - constructing garden beds with a very appropriate building material.
Her class, and three others, are manufacturing eco-bricks, PET plastic bottles of any kind or size, filled with dry, clean plastic waste from cling film, packaging and bubble wrap to cut-up yoghurt pottles, onion bags, chip packets, bread bags - "basically anything. It just needs to be clean," she said.
"You push the plastic down to compact it within the bottle."
There was a strong environmental element too, beyond saving waste going to landfill, the preferred method of collection being picking up rubbish in places where it shouldn't be, like waterways, parks, roadsides and school grounds.
"We are then using the eco-bricks to build a garden for us to grow our own fruit and veges," Brown said.
"The children will be building the garden frame with natural cement and the eco-bricks."
It was a very big project though.
"We need so many eco-bricks," she added.
"It takes about 100 to build one small garden, and almost every class in our school is helping, but we need more. Everyone who helps will be saving money by diverting trash from the bin to the brick, and will be supporting an amazing project.
"Can you build and donate eco-bricks for us? I can pick them up, you can drop them off, or send me a message (at the school, phone (09) 408-0228) and we can arrange something."
The bricks, she said, were made to a specific density, reducing the nett surface area of the packed plastic to effectively secure it from degrading into toxins and microplastics. They could be used to make modular units, furniture, gardens and other structures, even sculptures, the Global Ecobrick Alliance promoting eco-bricking as a collaboration-powered technology, grounded in regenerative principles.
Her pupils might not be thinking quite as deeply as that, but were certainly keen, not only to add to their brick supply but to put them to use on the terraced slope behind the school.
Two classes had already built one garden, and two more would be starting to build another this week.
The project was part of the Garden to Table initiative, whereby children were taught how to grow, then cook, their own food, the long-term goal at Kaitaia Primary being to add fruit trees.
"The children are really enthusiastic," Brown said.
"Some are saying they will be coming back in years to come to show their children what they have achieved."
Planting was also scheduled to begin this week, although the children had vote on what would to going into the new beds. They had already made a start, however, by saving some pumpkin seeds.