Mary Tingey provides a progress report on this great initiative.

Download the full report here

In 2015 and 2016 we planted orchards in 11 schools. This year we are well advanced in our planning to plant orchards in another 5 schools, including Haeata, Isleworth School, Fendalton School and Elmwood School.

Schools which planted in 2015

Northcote School (image left) Since joining the programme Northcote, with the aid of Rotary, have added substantially to their fruit trees. They have burst out of the allotted orchard space and now carry on along a whole fence line. The orchard has also been a stimulus to renew and enlarge their vegetable gardens to six garden boxes; one per class. For their next project they are looking at developing the space under the fruit trees into a community garden. The children say they love going outside and getting dirty with nature all around. Their favourite pickings are nectarines, strawberries, carrots and beetroot.

Oaklands School – Oakland’s orchard is a beautiful, peaceful place with well grown trees, chickens and abundant wildflowers. Most of their trees are growing prolifically. Unfortunately two trees died but teacher Paul Mc Aven has planted replacements. Nearby there are a number of vegetable gardens, the harvest is used in the school cooking programme.

St Martins School One day Howard Keene, garden coordinator, found children writing poetry about the beautiful flowers in the orchards. He thought that this was one of the highlights of the orchard this year. The feijoas, currants, nectarines and plums were doing well. Two of the peaches had curly leaf and will be replaced by apples or pears. The orchard is part of a luxuriant veggie garden, supported by two big compost heaps. The food from the gardens is used for the garden to table programme.

Addington School Teacher Lyn Petch says, “We can never undervalue the learning that surrounds cultivating and growing our own produce. It is never a simple undertaking that fits with knowledge, experience, trial and error. There are also many skills and qualities of a gardener that are practised by our tamariki. Qualities like patience, persistence, perseverance, teamwork, decision making and initiative. Some of our trees are young and still not producing fruit. Our blackcurrant bushes produced fruit, and jam was made by one of our teachers.”

Gilberthorpe School Pride of place in this orchard is the apricot tree which fruited very well. The currant bushes are strong and healthy and the pears have grown well too. Teacher Jess Hey is keen to include children’s art in the orchard. She is considering many options to make the orchard space more enticing. The green team are called the Gilby Garden Club.

Schools which planted in 2016

Waitakiri School (image left) When I first went to visit this school building was in full swing, making it hard to visualise an orchard amongst all the rubble. By planting day in August 2016, raised beds, made by the caretaker Ian Woodward (Woody) were awaiting each tree as the school intended to grow vegetables around the trees. Waitakiri’s team of children are called FERNS. Friends of the Environment who show Respect for Nature and Sustainability. All the trees are growing strongly, many looking splendid with vegetables growing underneath. Teacher Glennys Hill says, “We would like to thank Mary for the wonderful help you gave us in establishing our Orchard and the continuing support you are giving us. We would also like to thank the Canterbury Horticultural Society for the fruit trees we received.”

Rawhiti School When I first saw this orchard site it was a combination of sand, weeds, scrub and a huge pile of prunings. The task looked daunting. By planting day last August caretaker Georgina Lloyd had reduced the scrub and prunings to a layer of mulch all over the site. All the trees have grown and with them a vegetable garden. By Autumn pumpkins were rambling around the trees and a green house was in operation. Teacher Vicki Stevenson reports, “Rawhiti’s team of children are called the Enviro group. We are growing seedlings in the greenhouse ready for planting. We have a large group working every Friday and the kids are thrilled to have had fejoas growing and have collected some for seeds.”

Casebrook Intermediate The students designed their orchard as part of their Hard Material classes. When I visited in May this year all the trees had grown strongly. In fact some had borne their first fruit to the delight of the students. The trees are going to be numbered and each tree will have a group who are responsible for it. Casebrook has a thriving vegetable garden, the produce of which is used in the Food Technology class, seedlings and produce are also sent home with the Friday Garden Group.

Cobham Intermediate The Year 8 SPEC group at Cobham Intermediate, along with community worker Lyndon Rogers from 24/7 Your Workers and teacher aide Tracey, designed and planted their orchard. The students maintain the orchard. Over summer they watered the trees and fed them worm tea.  Each tree has been mulched twice to maintain moisture and soil fertility. By May all the trees were thriving. They are already talking about their gardening plan for next term.

Riccarton School Caretaker Colin Renouf has extended the schools thriving gardens to under the classroom windows where the children enjoy luxuriant crops of spring onions, pak choi cabbages and silverbeet. The trees were planted in and around the main gardens and compliment each other beautifully. The day I was there children were busy weeding and we also pruned a hydrangea. Once a week they work in the garden as part of their Garden to Table programme. One tree had damage from vandalism during the holidays but will live to tell the tale. One peach tree did not make the grade. The rest of the trees are growing well. The children told me, “The trees give us fruit and clean our air.”

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