• Home
  • News
  • Gardening proves popular at Gisborne Intermediate School

Gardening proves popular at Gisborne Intermediate School

March 26, 2018


Deacon Hatwell-Watt (left) and Theo Weatherley distributing nutrient-rich seaweed to the vegetable plot at Gisborne Intyermediate School.

Gardening is the new bestseller at Gisborne Intermediate School, where students are queueing up to get their hands in the soil.

Teacher Anna de Lautour posted a small notice about setting up a gardening club and more than 80 students turned up for the first session.

She had to divide them into two groups and before long, with support from principal Glen Udall and EIT, raised gardens were flourishing outside the school’s cookery room.

The solid timber walls around them were built by woodwork students, with help from EIT carpentry students.

With guidance from EIT primary industry tutor Guy de Lautour, the horticulture extension students were soon growing fresh herbs and vegetables for cooking classes.

A year on, there are some amazing landscaping projects throughout the school grounds, all designed by students, and the school looks set to become the country’s first intermediate to offer horticulture as a technical subject.

Mr Udall said they approached a few key agencies and were able to get the backing of Eastland Community Trust, whose members could see the economic benefits of developing horticulture as a curriculum subject.

Students were inspired when LeaderBrand manager Richard Burke told them a career in horticulture was not just about planting lettuces. There were opportunities in management, science, project management and marketing to name a few, said Ms de Lautour.

“He encouraged the kids to get further learning but stay in Gisborne.”

The project first came about three years ago, .

“We realised that most kids did not have much understanding of where their food came from and even less about the economic and health values of growing their own.”

Project gains momentum

Once the gardening club was introduced, the project rapidly gained momentum.

“They just love it,” she said.

“It’s a great life skill to have,” said Theo Weatherley, 12.

“Gardening is fun,” said Flynn Chamberlain. “You get your hands dirty and it’s so gratifying when the work is done.”

Several students also spoke of leaving their mark on the school and imagining how some of the trees and shrubs would look in 20 years.

Some students were busy gathering seedlings from an existing school tree, to replant elsewhere, such as in the school’s tree planting project on Kaiti Hill.

Members of the school community were also getting on board, with contributions of plants and compost.

One man turned up with a couple of trailer loads of seaweed, which students were aware fed good nutrients into the soil.

“We can’t believe how engaged and motivated the students are” said Mr Udall. “As adults, we are simply enabling them.”

By making horticulture a curriculum subject, students would be able to formally achieve NCEA unit standards, which some were already reaching. For some, this could lead to learning pathways through high school and tertiary studies.

There was also a possibility it would help some families put healthier food on their tables, as enthusiastic students took their growing knowledge home.

Already feedback from the school community is such that EIT and the school are developing a community garden, where parents, grandparents and the wider school community will have the opportunity to do a level 2 Introduction to Horticulture course.

This will provide all the skills needed to develop a vegetable garden or orchard or to progress to a level 3 course for a job in the industry.