Passers-by won't just be allowed to help themselves to veges from a new community garden in Moerewa — they'll be actively encouraged to do so.
About 15 raised garden beds are being built along Moerewa School's Otiria Rd frontage with the aim of teaching kids to grow their own food and tapping into community knowledge, especially among the elderly, about gardening.
When the veges are growing a sign will be put up inviting people to help themselves.
More than 20 kids came to school on a day off on Tuesday to help build the beds, along with teachers, parents and staff from Bunnings outlets in Kaikohe, Kerikeri and Whangarei.
The project was the brainchild of school gardener Wiremu Keretene, who wanted to strengthen the school's relationship with the community and encourage locals to share their knowledge with the tamariki.
''The kids were awesome. I was rapt with how many turned out,'' he said.
Principal Jason Tane said it was a great idea but wanted the garden at the front of the school where everyone could use it.
''The last one was out the back so people didn't know about it and it just went to seed.''
He hoped the children would be inspired to start gardens of their own, take food to the elderly and tap into their knowledge.
''Our kuia and kaumatua have amazing knowledge. They know what was planted here 30 to 40 years ago, what worked and what didn't,'' Mr Tane said.
The school also had a long-term vision to make sure everyone in the community had access to fresh, healthy kai, which wasn't always easy given the town's unemployment and low incomes.
A seed nursery and a water tank, to make sure the veges survived during summer, were also planned.
Mr Tane said the school contacted a timber mill and hardware outlets and had been amazed by the response. Businesses had donated materials, gardening tools, a rotary hoe and staff to help build the beds.
Tuesday's volunteers included Sihrene Hunt, 15, who said building the garden beds was ''a real whanau experience''.
''I just want to give back to the community what they've given to me.''
Initially Mr Keretene intends to get the kids growing winter veges such as broccoli, carrots, silverbeet and cabbages, switching to tomatoes, strawberries and watermelons when summer returns.