The gardeners from Raumati South School have harvested yet another crop of honours — this time at the Sustainable Home and Garden show in Kāpiti, winning the School and the People’s Choice sections.
So it’s been a dramatic year so far for the school and its enthusiastic gardeners — with the highpoint at the Ellerslie Garden Show at Christchurch School, where the students gained national prizes.
Students, teachers and parents have been involved over a four-year period developing a varied ecosystem in which plants, insects, soil and climate interact.
Their endeavours have not gone unnoticed and earlier this month they took a garden down to the Ellerslie Show in Christchurch.
The road to Ellerslie
According to enthusiastic parent Carolyn Tristram, Raumati South was the first school ever to be invited to design and present a garden at the show. She says this was a huge honour, but also an enormous project and a logistical challenge.
The school’s Ellerslie exhibit was designed to include a variety of horticultural features which the keen young Raumati South gardeners have worked on in recent years. These included
- a raised fruit bed
- an edible flower bed
- a pizza oven and herb area
- a South African Keyhole garden with its own compost system
- a butterfly garden area with a green roof above it
- a bed of native planting for lizards and weta
- a rain water harvesting system using an old dairy pump driven by a bicycle ridden by students.
One wall was made of recycled pallets and the deck was made from old wooden Toyota car part packing cases. There was also a range of art works crafted by the students on the walls.
Students driving the project and winning awards
The pupils themselves have led the way in getting the school known nationally for its devotion to horticulture. Along with other schools in the area, Raumati South has featured a garden exhibit at the 2011 and 2012 Kapiti Sustainable Home and Garden Shows. These efforts won them gold awards. Then, with the Ellerslie invitation, came the opportunity for national recognition.
The students have been fantastic ambassadors, not only for Raumati South School and our Kapiti community, but also for gardening and caring for our environment.
Their passion and engagement during Ellerslie was what won the People’s Choice vote. We always knew that the garden would be viewed as several different projects that visitors could envisage in their own garden from water collection, composting, mulching, planting for wildlife to food growing and eating, and beautiful art from natural materials.
The children’s engagement with the visitors enabled the public to share in that passion, vision and knowledge,sSays Carolyn.
This view was echoed by national gardening personality Ruud Kleinpaste, who observed that the two trends that stood out for him at the Ellerslie Garden Show this year were sustainability and youth.
The children’s garden which won the Yates People’s Choice had a winning formula because people could go to these young kids and talk.
As well as the coveted People’s Choice award, the Raumati South garden also picked up a silver prize and the enthusiastic students, teachers and parents who travelled south were feted by the local media.
A wonderful legacy: sharing their work and a new Ellerslie category
The prize winning garden is now located at Riccarton’s Wharenui School. This will help their 150 pupils get pleasure from the rich experience of horticulture and growing their own fruit and vegetables.
According to Carolyn,
The prize winning garden is now located at Riccarton’s Wharenui School. This will help their 150 pupils get pleasure from the rich experience of horticulture and growing their own fruit and vegetables. According to Carolyn, the Wharenui students are already talking about gifting extra plants to other schools and, she says, ‘as we left they had two schools already booked in to visit the garden.’
thAnother spin off from the school’s involvement at the Ellerslie Garden Show is the creation of a new school’s category with up to ten entrants allowed each year.
Back home and featuring in Paraparaumu
Last weekend’s local Sustainable Home and Garden Show mirrored the Ellerslie trend. There were a lot gardens from local schools and kindergartens, and leading the way in popularity was the exhibit from the Raumati South School horticulturalists.
Once again they cleaned up in the schools’ section and also won the People’s Choice.