Six Whanganui schools have spent the past eight weeks nurturing gardens for the Springvale Garden Centre School Vegetable Garden Competition.
Logan Tutty visits Kaitoke School to see what its pupils have created.
With already a strong garden set-up in place, the chance to take part in the Springvale Garden Centre School Vegetable Garden Competition was a no-brainer for Kaitoke School.
The school already had some splitter boxes set up over the past few years which enabled pupils to grow whatever they liked.
Being able to source some vegetables for the competition has been a welcome addition to the garden.
"We've had gardens before but generally they've have had flowers and herbs in them, which have popped back up again," teacher Christine Tuka said.
Everything given to the school has ben planted, including lettuce, broccoli, spring onions, celery, carrots, beetroot and more.
"When we first started, the pukeko and other little animals were pinching the plants, so we were battling with them."
Tuka said she tapped into the natural curiosity her students had to continue maintaining the school garden.
"We had white butterflies at the beginning, which came with the caterpillars which absolutely riddled the garden.
"This class, they love collecting bugs. They spend all their time looking for bugs, so I've got them looking for caterpillars."
Tuka's class, room three, is the main driving force behind the growth and management of the garden, with a few senior pupils offering their services as well.
"Generally, the weeding and management are done by some of the senior students of the school. We've got some good helpers in the Year 6 levels."
The pupils come out once a week to tend to the gardens.
"Generally, the tools just sit here, so they can just come in whenever."
She said the pupils enjoyed the practicality of planting the vegetables and seeing them grow.
"It's been really good. The more we get it going, the better it will get."
Tuka said it was more about the experience for her pupils and introducing them to something they perhaps had not tried before.
"Next time, I'm thinking we let the children choose if they want to be involved. We used to have an environmental group and they got to plan everything. This time it was a bit of a rush."
The school has recently invested in equipment to create a worm farm, which would further expand their environmental learnings.
Taku hopes the school can use the grown vegetables to make soup packs and some of the greens for Burger Days.
"We do them at least once a term. Some of these veges will come in helpful for that, like the onions and lettuce."
"We had tomatoes but we haven't seen them pop up. Anything that the kids can just pick is good. Little fruit trees like blueberries are good."
If Kaitoke was to win any prizes from the competition, investing in a wider range of vegetables and fruit would be the priority.
"We would look to develop the garden further for sure."
Taku was looking forward to next year's edition of the competition, so they could continue building on the foundation they had laid.
"We are keen to be part of this and look forward to doing it again."
• To vote in the competition, go to www.springvalegardencentre.co.nz