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Challenge turns wasteland into thriving school garden

Garden challenge turns wasteland into thriving school vegetable garden in two hours

Tauranga home-based early childhood organisation Footsteps partnered with the Foundation for Youth Development (FYD) yesterday (Wednesday, 28 November) to turn a bare plot of land into a vegetable garden for Brookfield Primary School – in record time. In the space of two hours an 80-strong team of teachers and students built a 450 metre square garden equipped with custom built sleeper beds, 20 fruit trees, two vegetable patches and a 20 metre long mural.

The ‘garden challenge’ formed part of the Footsteps’ annual national conference, which was held in Tauranga this week. Footsteps’ national team of home-based early childhood teachers and staff worked on the garden which is on Brookfield school property, alongside 10 children from the FYD’s Project K programme who painted a mural of a Taurikara, the school’s Maori legend.

Footsteps CEO Kevin Christie said the gardening challenge launched a new nationwide community outreach programme, in which all Footsteps teachers would receive one day of paid community volunteering leave each month in an effort to work more closely with organisations that would benefit from their educational expertise.

“We believe the key to quality education is teaching children in a sustainable way, and the Brookfield Primary School garden is a wonderful example of this in action. We understand that great teaching requires a focus on family and community, and through our outreach programme we’ll be giving communities around New Zealand 400 volunteer hours every month,” said Mr Christie.

Brookfield Primary School principal Robert Hyndman said the school was delighted to be the first beneficiary of Footsteps’ volunteer time.

“The vegetable garden is a wonderful enhancement to our school environment. We are all looking forward to the learning opportunities it will provide," he said.

FYD regional programme manager Dan Allen Gorden said the project was an example of Tauranga community collaboration at its best.

“It’s great to see businesses, volunteers and young people in the Foundation For Youth Development working together to make a powerful difference for the good of Brookfield kids and their families."

To build the Brookfield Primary School garden Footsteps donated 300 volunteer hours and $5000 of materials. FYD and several local businesses also supported the project, with building supplier Carters providing wood and volunteers to build the nine sleeper beds, 10 metres of Daltons’ lawn mix, six metres of compost from Gammans, 10 metres of top soil from Taylor Bros, 10L of paint from Dulux for the mural, Incredible Edibles fruit trees, Copperfield Nursery citrus trees, Growers Direct seedlings and Yates 150 packs of seeds.

Footsteps provides free in-home education for children aged 0-5 years. Its early childhood teachers support children and caregivers with one-on-one support, advice and resources. Footsteps has 10 spaces available throughout the Bay for preschoolers being cared for by a nanny, relative or friend at home.
For more information - footsteps.co.nz or call 0800 366 878.


About Footsteps
Footsteps is an organisation that offers free early childhood education programmes and home-based childcare with a commitment to quality and 1:1 support.
Footsteps early childhood education programme is fully funded by the Ministry of Education and there is no charge to those taking advantage of the service.
Footsteps was established in 2001 and began offering its free early childhood education programme throughout New Zealand in the same year.
Footsteps home-based early childhood education services are both offered in urban and rural communities throughout New Zealand, being the only organisation in the country to offer a national service of visiting teachers.

More information about the organisations involved in the Brookfield Primary School garden build:
Brookfield Primary School - http://www.brookfield.school.nz/
Foundation for Youth Development - http://www.myd.govt.nz/
Project K - http://www.fyd.org.nz/Programmes/ProjectK%28Year10%29/Home.aspx

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