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Mother Earth rewards schools helping to close the gaps

Mother Earth rewards schools helping to close the gaps

Getting children to grow and cook their own vegetables is a key to more healthy and adventurous eating, says Mother Earth Reward Judge Niki Bezzant.

Four schools doing just this were named winners of this year’s Mother Earth Reward, announced today.

Auckland_Dawson Primary School.

The top three winners receive a $2,500 cash prize and the People’s Choice winner, as voted by the public, wins a $500 prize towards continuing their work.

The Mother Earth Reward Programme, established by Mother Earth in partnership with The Enviroschools Foundation in 2011, recognises Enviroschools that are making an outstanding contribution to the promotion of healthy eating.

Bezzant, editor of Healthy Food Guide magazine, was impressed by the level of commitment demonstrated by each of the school entries.

“Enviroschools are doing great work instilling kids with healthy eating habits. The enthusiasm the kids have for their various projects is equally impressive, “ says Bezzant. “Children are growing and eating veggies that you wouldn’t expect them to try - such as broccoli and garlic. This highlights that a key to encouraging kids to eat more widely is involving them in the whole process, from planting and harvesting to cooking their own vegetables.

“It’s sometimes easy to feel disheartened by the massive problem with obesity in this country and its related diseases,” adds Bezzant. “So, it’s wonderful to see what’s going on in these schools. It makes me feel really hopeful for the future.”

For one of this year’s winning schools it was second time lucky. Having entered their greenhouse made from recycled plastic bottles in last year’s Mother Earth Reward, it was Bright Horizons Preschool’s “ground up” philosophy that struck a chord with the judge this time round.

“These Canterbury preschoolers are not only learning about different plants and vegetables, they are learning about the importance of producing good soil for growing and how to use these plants in their own cooking,” says Bezzant.

Dawson Primary School in Otara, Auckland is being recognised for its “full circle” approach to cultivating healthy behaviours for life.

“I like the way children are involved every step of the way,” says Bezzant. “From establishing and tending gardens to harvesting and cooking what they produce, the kids are acquiring life skills they will carry into adulthood.”

Papamoa Free Kindergarten was chosen by Bezzant because of the “powerful simplicity” of its programme whereby children are learning how “healthy soil creates healthy food and therefore healthy people”.

“This is another great example of getting kids started really young to develop an understanding of the benefits of wholesome food,” says Bezzant, who was amazed to find the kindergarten children eating veggies straight from the garden and enjoying seconds of broccoli omelettes.

Out of the ten finalists, Auckland’s Meadowbank Primary School has been awarded the prize for the people’s favourite. The school entered their “Garden to Table” initiative where the value of home-grown and the health benefits of organic and sustainable produce is being explored by the students.

Founder of The Enviroschools Foundation, Heidi Mardon, felt that the standards of this year’s entrants were very high.

“It’s wonderful to see the commitment of all the schools that entered, developing strong values toward environmental sustainability and health in our schools,” says Mardon. “What’s even more wonderful is that there is a real commitment to passing on these values and skills to the wider community.

“With the support of Mother Earth, we will continue to encourage and celebrate schools working in inspiring ways to create healthy lifestyles.”

Mother Earth has been a sponsor of The Enviroschools Foundation for the last three years.


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