Pupils at a number of Whanganui primary schools have been getting their hands dirty over the past eight weeks learning about horticulture and the art of gardening.
The School Vegetable Garden Competition is a partnership between the Whanganui Chronicle and the Springvale Garden Centre. Six primary schools were provided with seeds, plants, tools and supplies to create their own gardens.
Brunswick, Churton, St Mary's, Mosston, Aranui and Kaitoke are the primary schools who have jumped on board for the first edition of the event.
Each school's garden will be profiled in the Chronicle throughout next week, with a public vote to follow.
Springvale Garden Centre general manager Gareth Carter said the School Vegetable Garden Competition was created to encourage kids to learn about gardening and spur their interest.
"In March, we contacted schools and asked if they wanted to be involved. We didn't give them a lot of notice, so we will promote it a bit earlier next time.
"We already have an indication there will be a lot more schools involved next year."
The challenge has garnered the interest of many more schools in the region, with Whanganui Chronicle's Richard Benson saying 18 schools had put their names down to be a part of the next one.
"The kids have been really getting involved and become quite protective. It is very cool to see. They have been taking home some of the ideas and information they have learnt."
Suppliers of the Springvale Garden Centre have helped fuel the project, with Nature's Way, Tui Products, Eastown Timber all chipping in for the competition.
"Hopefully next year we can offer a similar sort of thing."
Carter said the competition had been a good way for kids to learn what time of year certain fruit and vegetables grow and have taken knowledge home with them.
He said the uptick from the schools and students has been great.
"At the start, there was only a small group of kids keen on it. By the end, the whole class but one was interested in it."
Carter said gardening can be quite captivating and connect something within you.
"The other side of gardening that is really good is it helps people's mental health. As they get older and the pressures of life become real, it's an outlet for a hobby that is positive and low cost to be involved with."
The competition winner will be fully decided by public vote, with vouchers from the Springvale Garden Centre for the top three placings.
• To vote in the competition, go to www.springvalegardencentre.co.nz