At Ruahine Linton Kindergarten we have been on our Enviroschools journey since 2014, and we are proud to have reflected to a silver level. We are exceptionally proud of our practices that support this – in particular our world-famous-in-Linton wormshake production that tamariki can make daily, on their own, with a kaiako or showing tautoko for a friend. The wormshake is used to feed our gardens or to connect with our community by selling on our kindy shop.
Where have we come from and what do we know now?
Our vision as an Enviroschool has always been “to embed the principles of sustainability as part of our kindergarten kaupapa” but crucially within this we wanted our tamariki to be meaningfully and authentically participating and connected to that vision.
We wanted practices and programmes in our place that tamariki could participate in daily – both kaiako led and also tamaiti led, with opportunities for ako and tuākana tēina that enhanced whakamana for each tamaiti. This was to enable our Enviroschools kaupapa to be continually shared, developed and strengthened every day.
Measuring the current situation
We began our journey with a focus on Zero Waste, measuring the waste we generated. We discovered that most of our waste was paper followed by food, so we started to explore ways we could reduce that wastage.
We connected with our whānau and community. We looked to other Enviroschools for inspiration. We attended workshops to connect with colleagues and other Enviroschools. Our kindergarten envirogroup made up of committed whānau met and discussed ideas and made some decisions about ways we could reduce our footprint. We saw kai as an important opportunity for our tamariki to be connected daily to conversations and discussions about this.
One action we have taken is to have containers at our kai table to collect the waste for heihei, noke and separate out any rubbish. We added a wormery to our kindergarten and a larger compost for our whānau to contribute their kitchen waste to. We also donated our excess heihei kai scraps to whānau with their own heihei.
Suddenly we had worm leachate to use! We began to mix, measure, and make worm leachate with our tamariki inside at a sink in the art area. What we noticed though, over time, was it was heavily dependent on a teacher being available to set it up and help. Having lots of water and worm leachate inside was not all that practical or safe and needing a kaiako was only partially meeting our vision of strengthening the whakamana of our tamariki.
Further inspiration and ideas
It was around this time that we were inspired by attending Enviroschools Water of Life workshops and this added a new thread to our understanding of sustainable practices. The kaupapa that water is precious, and a limited resource really resonated with us and our whānau, especially as our farming whānau knew all about the reality of tank water. We saw great benefits in tamariki being introduced to the idea of using water purposefully, harvesting water from the roof and knowing to turn a tap off when finished.
We researched local companies that provided tanks and fundraised. We gained and had fabulous support from our committed envirogroup and installed a 1000 litre tank to collect rainwater. Where we erected the water tank system was important. We wanted our tamariki to be able to make connections with the tears of Ranginui filling the tank and for them to be able to access that water to sustain our gardens.
Then, there was a light bulb moment! We could hand the responsibility over to the tamariki of measuring, mixing and making worm leachate, and, by setting up the area next to the water tank, help enable this. We were pretty excited! Our tamariki came up with the name “wormshake” and a process that is rich in ako, kaitiakitanga, whanaungatanga, manaakitanga and whakamana. This was available every day for tamariki to take the initiative and be involved in.
“Take the fruit wrappings and the fruit we don’t eat and the coffee from the kai table. Put the fruit scrapping in the worm farm. Get the leachate from the worm farm when you need it. Measure up to the black line. Put the worm leachate in the bottle. Put in the jug from the tank. The water comes from the rainclouds. Put the water in the bottle. Put the wormshake in the garden because they have to grow.” – Te Rima’s book explaining to his Māmā how to make wormshake.
The benefits of this totally embedded practice are huge! It highlights the interconnectedness of eating and waste reduction, and a manageable way for this to happen onsite. It highlights our role in displaying kaitiakitanga for our environment and an enriching way our tamariki can participate in this. They understand that we have a responsibility to care for the kai gardens we grow and by feeding them worm shake they are contributing. It brings our care code to life. We are able to make connections with caring for our little creatures and animals, caring for our planet, caring for our gardens and caring for our friends in a meaningful and authentic way. It strengthens whanaungatanga and our connections with our whānau and community.
“I made that wormshake.” – Mia Marie, 4, letting a customer at our kindy shop know and responding with a thumbs up when the customer told her what she was going to do with the wormshake.
Tamariki transfer their knowledge between home and kindergarten. People come to our kindy shop specifically to buy our wormshake which in turn helps fund our gardens. It gives us an opportunity to express manaakitanga for our visitors. Knowledge is shared with our colleagues as they come to see how this works here as well as gifting a koha of worms to those beginning their own journey. Most importantly it upholds the whakamana of our tamariki as they are able to take the lead in making wormshake and sharing our Enviroschool kaupapa with their friends, providing tautoko as they teach them a much-loved part of our programme.
“What I love about it is anyone can do it. You can be two or three or four years old.” – Kaiako voice
Making wormshake is just one of our initiatives that empower our tamariki to contribute to a sustainable community, but it’s one that is totally embedded and a part of daily life at Ruahine Linton Kindergarten (and in our hapori).
“I bring my compost in from home and my whānau has picked up on that knowledge of what the noke will eat and consciously sort the kai. That knowledge has come from here, as well the whole cycle of taking the wormshake home to feed my māra kai and houseplants.” – Kaiāwhina voice
Where to from here?
Our next vision is to develop a kindergarten library to enable preloved books to be reused, sharing with our tamariki another way to contribute to a sustainable community.
“It inspired me to take my new knowledge to my own whānau and how much my own boys love making wormshake” Kaiako voice
Banner image: Collecting leachate from the worm farm.