News and Events

Hard mahi and money enables a rich and living curriculum

August 2, 2023

When we (Waimārama School in Hawke’s Bay) received news of our successful Earthwise funding, we were ecstatic as we knew the money would stretch much further than just the initial project pieces. The vision was to create an environment that was going to be conducive to our students developing entrepreneurial skills with an abundant and sustainable backyard.

With the grant funding provided by Earthwise we have been able to:

  • Implement a ferret-proof home and replace our school chickens to generate product (eggs for sale or trade) and manage waste from school lunches.
  • Purchase materials to improve our vegetable gardens so we could grow more crops.
  • Create spaces for storage.
  • Establish worm farms for product (worm juice) and produce abundance.
  • Install a water system for water security and water testing curriculum.
  • Install a larger number of compost builders to establish plenty of quality soil.
  • Take some of our products to market and collect feedback about sales from those running the stall.
  • Purchase and plant out seeds, seedlings, and “mother” plants to generate more crops.


The Enviro-team check out the worms at work in their compost bins.

Learning new skills.












Having all these things has enabled us to deliver an ongoing rich curriculum, as well as create surprising extra outcomes as follows:

  • The scale of the project, and multiple layers to it, led to some beautiful posts from our staff on Facebook which has generated extra community interest and now we have helpers from our community, networking with local businesses, joining in with the enviro team each week.
  • The authentic mathematics that stems from solving problems around structure design, outlay and profit, animal care and growing plants led to such rich conversations and learning.
  • The customer feedback has led to student inquiry about customer needs, rules and regulations in our community/district council. This lends itself to learning about local council law and reaching out to community members in key roles by shaping phone interview questions and inquiry emails.
  • We are currently exploring the idea of launching an online business for our produce, by-products and gardening services.
  • One of the students has come up with the idea of making weeding vouchers for local community members and evening raffling them as a school fundraiser.
  • Cooking hot chips for our afternoon with our own potatoes. Making lemonade.
  • Visual language exploration with advertising for our products and packaging design.

The chook house construction team at work.

Getting to know the chickens and their unique features.











So far, the products we can generate for sale are eggs, fire-starting kits with homemade cabbage leaf (ti kōuka) fire starters and pinecones, lemons, worm juice, Māori seed potatoes, potatoes, ferns, kawakawa and pittosporum seedlings, and strawberry plants.

Fire lighters made from ti kōuka leaves, bundled up and ready for market, helping develop entrepreneurial skills.

After sharing their yummy chips, the team brainstorm ideas for sharing updates and inspiring others.











“On behalf of Waimārama School we would like to say a huge thank you to Earthwise and Enviroschools for the grant funding that has enabled us to achieve the vision and create environments that strengthen our localised curriculum delivery of sustainability education.” – Esther Geerlings | Principal | Tumuaki | Waimārama School

Surveying the new inter-planting in the boxed gardens (with fresh soil, blueberries, strawberries and companion plants)