Fruit and vegetable gardens support tamariki in strengthening their hauora. At Mayfield Kindergarten in Ōtara, manaakitanga is a core value as tamariki grow and harvest kai, supported by their whānau and the wider community.
Mayfield Kindergarten created its fruit and vegetable garden in 2021 after becoming an Enviroschool. “I wanted to be an Enviroschool since day one,” says Donna Leaf, Head Teacher at Mayfield Kindergarten.
As part of the curriculum, gardening promotes play and movement. Tamariki grow and harvest produce from the garden, make “worm tea” compost and collect seeds for a class seed bank, all the while connecting with te taiao (the environment).
Once kai is harvested, it is taken into the centre for cooking and sharing with whānau. Kids are involved with preparing food like spinach and cheese scones – which have become a hit during morning tea.
Finding and creating connections
Mayfield has a diverse community of Pasifika, Māori and Asian families, and it takes time to build the trust with the community and get everyone involved, says Donna. “There is support, sometimes you have to reach further.”
“Mayfield is an example of how whānau and the community can come together to support tamariki,” says Pandy Hawke, Community and Enviroschool Coordinator. “Donna is an advocate for the centre and never gives up.”
This also includes reaching out to Bunnings Warehouse and applying for council grants for garden supplies, as well as connecting to various other organisations for donated items.
Fresh kai without breaking the budget
Mayfield’s fruit and vegetable garden is cost-effective and sustainable thanks to ongoing support from the community and the seed bank (seeds collected from the garden to be planted next season).
Whānau also have a large part to play building and maintaining the garden beds. “Tending to the garden has become a social activity that brings whānau together,” says teacher, Rui Ma.
“Our whānau helped to plant our new garden and we’re delighted to share our harvest with all our whānau in our community.”
Mayfield Kindergarten recipe card
Mayfield Kindergarten's gardening tips