Worm farms and swap stations help grow a sustainable community

| By Suzie Pentelow and Opunake Kindergarten team

Our Vision

Opunake Kindergarten had a project vision to support our small rural town to learn more about the benefits of worm farms. We planned to do this through giving our local schools and early childhood education (ECE) centres a bath worm farm each to encourage students and teachers to naturally recycle their food waste.  The other part of our project was to create some ‘plant swap stations’ to place along our town’s walkway, to encourage our community members to share excess produce and plants they have grown.

Working on the letters to the schools.

Kaiako and tamariki work together to create a letter about the worm farms.









Getting started

We had many conversations and discussions about our worm farm and the worm farms we were giving away with our tamariki.  We discussed the reasons behind giving the worm farms to the schools, where the farms could go at the schools and what we needed to teach the teachers and students about caring for their worms.  The tamariki helped compose a letter to the schools and centres to offer our donation and support. They decorated the letters with drawings of the items the worms can eat.

Parents and staff busy building the worm farms at Kindy.

Doing the mahi. Almost completed.








Awesome Actions

Our staff and families helped build the worm farms and provided bedding materials and extra tiger worms. Opunake High School students got involved by building the plant swap stations, (they are an Enviroschool too).  The other schools and ECE services were excited to hear they were receiving such a great resource. The Opunake Coastal Walkway Trust supported our project through agreeing to let us erect our plant swap stands and Lions Club have offered their services to help erect the last two plant swap stations early in 2022.

Outcomes achieved for tamariki/Kindergarten/community

Our tamariki have been on such a learning journey while this project has been happening.  Literacy has been developed through helping to write and deliver the letters to the schools, and numeracy through the maths strand of locating, as we discussed where the schools their siblings were at could place their donated worm farm.  Their sense of belonging has been supported as we have discussed the other schools and ECE services in our community, as well as how we are going to be helping them all by giving them a worm farm.

High school teachers and students were able to use their skills and knowledge to support younger tamariki, also strengthening their dispositions to be generous with their time and knowledge in their community.

We are getting baths donated, ready to start building.

The article about our project in the Opunake & Coastal news.









First Delivery! Our first farm went to Opunake Primary School.

Through our article in our local paper “The Opunake and Coastal News”, we shared the value of worm farms with the local community.  This will continue in early 2022, when we put up the last two Plant Swap sharing stations on the Opunake Coastal walkway and deliver the rest of the bath worm farms to our local schools and ECE services. When we deliver the rest of the worm farms, our tamariki will help deliver these, along with the tiger worms and bedding. They will be able to share their knowledge about caring for worms with the school students.


Our project will hopefully continue to show positive outcomes for many years, as the worm farms become established and start to produce worm casts, worm ‘juice’ and more tiger worms for the schools and ECE services to use in their grounds and/or share with their community.

The plant swap stand up at Kindy and ready to start sharing.

Our extra farms at Kindy will be a place where locals can bring their food waste to recycle.  This means it won’t end up in our landfills.  The plant swap stands will support our community to share more amongst ourselves and be more food resilient in times of uncertainty.

Our project provided an opportunity for our tamariki, staff and whānau to collaborate with the other educational services and community groups in our town – to work together for a more sustainable future!


I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Earthwise for their generous support of communities through this fund.  We would never have been able to realise our dream of this project without your support. – Suzie Pentelow, Opunake Kindergarten

What next?

During our recent Enviroschools review of our cleaning products we have investigated many options for washing machine cleaning products and have decided to start using Earthwise washing machine liquid from now on.  Thanks for making such environmentally safe products!!

Banner image: The delivery of our first plant swap stand to Opunake High School.