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Compost makes a big difference for Edmund Hillary School

Edmund Hillary School's caretaker, Troy (right), with some eager helpers on the field.

Edmund Hillary School in Papakura has had a big boost to their school garden, thanks to compost made from local food scraps.

The primary school on Hunua Road has a thriving garden full of fruit, veggies, native plants and flowers. Under the guidance of "the garden lady" Mariu Wetere, the tamariki regularly get their hands dirty planting and caring for the garden.

Mariu Wetere, "the garden lady", supervises as students plant flowers.

“We do every step of planting with the children,” says Mariu. “They just love it. Every time I ask who wants to get involved, all the hands shoot up!”

Not only does the hands-on gardening programme align with the environmental science curriculum, it also gives the tamariki a profound sense of ownership, pride and care for their school gardens. “The children are very respectful of the garden, because it was their work that went into it,” says Mariu. “The garden belongs to them.”

The whānau in the school community are making the most of the opportunity to learn and get involved too. “We have a number of parents who have watched Mariu over the past couple of months, reconfiguring existing garden beds as well as creating new ones,” says teacher Naomi Lees. “Now they stop and ask her advice, as they have taken some of what she has done to implement in their own gardens.”

The staff at Edmund Hillary School got in touch with the Beautification Trust when they learned about our Community Compost programme. The compost is made from food scraps collected via Auckland Council’s Papakura kerbside collection pilot and distributed to the community free of charge. We were thrilled to provide the ‘black gold’ for such a worthy cause in the community where the food scraps originated.

Half of the compost was used to help fertilise and re-seed the school field, just in time for winter sports. The other half was used by the children to plant flowers and vegies, as well as fertilising the schools’ fruit trees so the little ones can help themselves to healthy snacks straight from the garden.

If you’re a Papakura local, keep an eye on the cherry trees along the school fence on Hunua road as we come into spring. With the help of your food scraps, the blossoms are bound to be extra bright this year!

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