Working with and nurturing nature is something that happens intuitively at Karangahake School. An Earthwise Action Fund has provided an opportunity for the current students to add their own ideas and designs to the gardens. Here are updates from the school.
Karangahake Maara Kai Update in July 2022
Students in the middle room have been planning additions to the garden, after looking at the space and spending some time there, students discussed some of the things that they would like to see there and how they’d like to use the space.
Some of the ideas of what they want to see and be involved in include planting lots of fruit trees and flowers, creating a space for a ‘chicken army’ to help us to use our waste and have eggs to go with our produce, worm farms that directly feed the fruit trees, a few ziplines were designed in the hope that we can use these to move soil and mulch from the carpark area of school to the garden. Students wanted to create a calm and peaceful area with water to make the space more inviting and attract insects that can help our plants to thrive.
“We are loving getting involved as a whole school in our garden project, there are lots of things that have been started and the kids are helping to plan for their implementation. Thank you again, the whole project has really got our school community excited! – Lauren Bartram, Karangahake School
In addition to the planning from students we have ordered a greenhouse for the space which is on its way. We have chosen to use our zero waste time to help support our composting and worm farm preparation. We have an old bath all ready for a worm farm set up and we have a local expert Arthur Lynch coming to help us set this up in week 3 of this term.
Students have planted seeds and are growing these ready for the new beds and have been busy preparing seed bombs that can be sold to our community in order to raise money for ongoing seed starting. The school PTA have embraced this project and as a result will be running a Kings Seeds fundraiser.
We have a school parent who has volunteered to work in the garden weekly and she does this with a small group of keen gardeners. Our next steps this term are to fill the garden beds, create our compost and worm farms, erect the greenhouse and grow seedlings for school use and for the community in the lead-up to spring.
A small greenhouse (1.92m x 2.56m) has been ordered and should be here in the next week or so. Students will help erect and install this adjacent to the raised garden beds. The greenhouse will have a bench on one side for propagating seeds/cuttings and an area to grow vegetables on the other side.
Karangahake School – Maara kai update September 2022
This month has seen us developing the infrastructure that will help us to keep this garden sustainable, productive and contributing to the local community. The greenhouse has arrived and has been a bit of a project to erect. Students were involved in planning where it would go and had to take into account the strong winds, access, sun and large trees. They came up with a way of fixing the greenhouse to the existing walls and built 2 further fixing points. Currently the greenhouse frame is up, and we have a working bee planned to add the rubbers and polycarbonate. The greenhouse was a different one to that in the grant application as we felt, upon reflection over winter, that the plastic film would not withstand the wind in the way that we need it to. This has resulted in a small overspend on the greenhouse which we have mitigated by sourcing and alternative water tank option.
Two of the four garden beds are full and already growing crops which include carrots, radish, lettuce, sunflowers, corn, peas and beans. Once the greenhouse is complete, the final beds will be planted up with a succession of vegetables that will look after themselves over summer and provide kai for our summer events. Our junior classroom are working on growing tipu and learning about planting kūmara in anticipation. Seedlings are being started for both our end of year market and for the gate stand, both of which will provide ongoing funds for the coming years gardens.
The gate stand has begun as a refurbishment project. Students had a well-used mud kitchen that allowed them to look at the design process asking how they could improve it to meet our needs. It needs a cover and a new end panel, so supplies have been ordered and a session planned for the end of October to get this ready to start selling the seedlings as they are ready.
An addition to our Earthwise Action Fund application has been the inclusion of the ‘chicken army’. When students first planned the gardens, it was a key feature of many of their designs. We have inherited an aviary which will be a perfect home for the army. Students identified an area with shade and levelled it ready for it to be delivered, lots of digging! They have identified the chickens as a helpful way to deal with our lunch rubbish and provide a source of fertiliser that we don’t have to pay for. This, along with the worms, will hopefully provide enough nutrient to grow giant pumpkins.
The project has created community interest and more whānau have come forward to offer time and to share knowledge in the garden. Already a summer roster has been drawn up for the garden so that no produce goes to waste. This term we have planned some working bees that combine working towards a specific goal but also offer an opportunity to learn new skills. Tomato potting on and growing happens this week.
We are aiming to complete the infrastructure before the end of the school year.
Banner image: Some of the gardens, overlooking the school and Karangahake Valley.