Awapuni Kindergarten’s newly established sustainable garden was blessed on Friday 17 May, highlighting the journey of the kindergarten’s children, teachers and whanau’s learning, as well as honouring the historical name of Te Kakano, gifted to the kindergarten many years ago.
The garden has been 18 months in the making, that has included visiting other kindergarten gardens, working bees, water conservation, and working with Karen McKay from Massey University’s Centre for Educational Development, linking the project to early childhood education learning. Sustainable gardening is part of the Ruahine Kindergarten Association’s philosophy of health and wellbeing. Teaching the children where their food comes from, how to grow, and how to prepare food for eating, is a key focus.
Head Teacher Kim Holland thanked those present for their help in achieving a garden that everyone in the community benefits from. The children take home not only what they have learned; they also share crops between home and kindergarten. “I’ve helped with watering, and we made scarecrows to scare the birds away because they eat our plants”, says four-year-old Kyan MacDonald-Tocker. “My favourite is strawberries, we have them at home too. I help with weeding, it’s the little ones around the plants that you pull out”.
Through their learning about growing their own food, compost, worm farming, recycling, conservation, and attracting insects for pollination, the children have developed self reliance, ownership, literacy, math, leadership, responsibility, and negotiation skills. One project saw the creation of a chart highlighting the most popular vegetable, which happens to be the humble carrot. While the scarecrows were one of the solutions suggested by the children as a way to stop the birds eating the garden.
An anonymous Koro, a man who walked past the centre many times, some years ago, gifted the name Te Kakano. Translated the name Te Kakano means ‘The Seedling’ which is very apt to the garden but also the nurturing that kindergarten children receive to grow strong.
After 10 years of searching by Head Teacher Kim Holland, Whare Hautapu’s name was provided by his extended family. Raised in Foxton by his elders, Whare’s job was to look after the gardens. Whare’s granddaughter Tegan took part in Friday’s blessing, and described Whare, who passed away last year, as a cheeky, entertaining man, who did everything from his heart.
Also present was Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor, who commended the kindergarten on their work, “it’s projects like this that highlights the community behind the kindergarten, and the nurturing of our children”.