They're growing more than just great kids at a Stratford early childhood centre.

The youngsters at Gr8Kidz on Orlando St are enjoying a hands-on learning experience through their vegetable garden and orchard.

Teacher Robin Mischeski says the orchard project has been growing rapidly for the past year, with a range of learning activities and outcomes from it.

"All the children gain something from it, as there are so many different aspects involved. Some of our children are interested in the worm farm we have, and the life cycle of insects, others are enjoying learning about dirt, and what grows in soil, while others are enjoying planting seeds and seeing them grow."

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Rebecca Robinson, 20 months, loves feeding the birds each day.
Rebecca Robinson, 20 months, loves feeding the birds each day.

Every day children are able to help in the garden and orchard with a range of tasks from feeding rice to the birds to checking on their crops.

Robin says the team at Gr8Kidz want to continue growing their orchard and vegetable garden and so have recently bought a greenhouse to help them nurture some plants and trees from seedlings more effectively.

Currently the children have a range of things growing, including silverbeet, peas and strawberries. The youngsters have also already tasted the fruits of their labour in the orchard.

"Our first harvest of feijoas took place a couple of months ago," says Robin.

The children have also planted daffodils, and some have already flowered.

Genevieve Chesswas, 4, says she likes seeing the flowers grow.

"I remember planting them and now I can see them, and love their colour."

Genevieve Chesswas, 4, says she likes growing flowers in the garden.
Genevieve Chesswas, 4, says she likes growing flowers in the garden.

For 4-year-old Connor Dettling, growing tomatoes has been a favourite activity.

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"I liked digging in the dirt and helping them grow. Tomatoes are my favourite, I like growing them to pick and eat. I also help in the garden at home."

To raise money to purchase more seeds and other necessities for their project, one of the teachers at the centre has donated a painting to be auctioned off through a silent auction.

Teacher and artist Yvonne Mestrom says she studied art for five years in total and has always enjoyed it.

"I only teach three days a week, so one day I was at home painting, thinking about Robin and her orchard and how could I help. It struck me I could give her a painting to use somehow to raise funds."

Robin Mischeski and Yvonne Mestrom with the painting to be auctioned.
Robin Mischeski and Yvonne Mestrom with the painting to be auctioned.

The watercolour painting Yvonne has donated is apt in subject matter.

"It is of fruit, some pears and an apple I had at home at the time."

It isn't the first painting Yvonne has sold. She has sold some privately commissioned acrylic paintings in the past, as well as prints of the same paintings.

"I enjoy painting, it is something I have always liked, and I loved studying art."

Robin says bids are welcome from everyone, not just families connected to the early childhood centre.

"The more we can raise the better, as we really want to grow this project to the next level."

● To make a bid - call into GR8Kidz on Orlando St. The painting is on display there, along with pieces of paper for you to submit your bid on. The auction closes on August 9, with the painting going to the highest bidder. If you prefer, you can call the office on 06 765 0401 ext 2. and leave your details and tell them the amount you wish to bid.