Brunswick School has taken out Whanganui's School Vege Challenge for 2022.
It not only won the best-looking garden category, but the school was first equal for the most innovative garden, second equal for carrot growing, and first equal for broccoli growing.
Springvale Garden Centre general manager Gareth Carter said the school's garden beds were a traditional-style garden with dug-in bricks in the ground that he said was "pretty cool".
"The vegetables also looked decent and healthy," Carter said.
The annual competition, which began last year with six local schools participating, had 16 entrants this year.
The overall winner is the school that does the best across the five categories - people's choice, best-looking garden, most innovative garden, carrot growing and broccoli growing.
Carter said the people's choice category received an impressive 700-plus votes from the public.
After double-ups were removed from the count, Brunswick School received 186 with Kai Iwi School a close second with 157 votes.
Brunswick School teacher Beth Berry, who oversaw the vegetable garden organisation, said the students would get excited at the idea of weeding the garden.
"An hour would pass and they would still be tending to the garden," Berry said.
"Initially, there were around five kids getting their hands in the dirt and, in the end, out of 22 kids, there was maybe only one who didn't actually get their hands right down into the dirt."
Berry said the initiative was inspirational.
"Instead of schools having to find the budget to purchase plants, Springvale Garden Centre makes it so easy and provides so many resources."
At the start of the challenge in February, the garden centre provided each school with a starter kit of supplies to set up their garden, including raised garden bed material from East Town Timber.
Carter said the starter pack was so decent that everyone could continue to garden, regardless of whether they won a prize.
At Brunswick School, the garden was grouped into four sections so each class had specific areas to plant, weed and monitor.
"That worked really well, so it's not like we've just got one gardening group. They're all learning all the time," Berry said.
Many of the pupils saw vegetables in the supermarket, but did not understand they grew in the ground.
"I say 'we're planting broccoli', and they thought they were planting the broccoli heads they see in the supermarket," Berry said
Many of the kids didn't have home gardens, so it was great for them to see how to grow vegetables and that it took time, she said.
The winners of each category received $100 of garden products and the runners-up received $50 of garden products.
"The idea is to give them more things for their garden to keep the students gardening," Carter said.
The runner-up overall winner was Whanganui Intermediate, which was first equal in the most innovative garden category, first in the carrot growing category, and first equal in the broccoli growing category.
Carter said their carrots were a good size and shape with nothing wrong with them.
The runner-ups for carrot growing were Brunswick and Okoia schools.
Whanganui Intermediate Year 8 student Jasmine Couper, who was in the gardening group from the beginning of the challenge, said her favourite part of the competition was building the beds to plant in.
"We built everything from the bottom up and have been getting into the garden a lot," Jasmine said.
"We've all learned so much. How to harvest, and how to plant properly without the seedlings dying."
Jasmine said she was able to take those skills home.
"I ended up bringing flowers and broccoli home and planting them, the flowers did really well."
Whanganui Girls' College, Brunswick School and Whanganui Intermediate shared first equal for the most innovative garden.
Carter said for this award he looked for anything outside of just "here are some plants in the garden".
"Whanganui Girls' College pulled apart their garden bed and reshaped it into a star. They also painted rocks as their plant labels which was really cool," he said.
The three runners-up for the most innovative garden were Whanganui City College (which gave the vegetables they grew to the Whanganui Kai Hub), Keith Street School and Churton School.
"Overall I'm really thrilled. The whole aim was to have kids gardening and people engaged, and that's been achieved," Carter said.
"It doesn't matter if a school hasn't won a prize, the fact that everyone has done some gardening was the goal."