From the rolling hills of Wainui to the crisper climate of Invercargill, the country can rest easy knowing its future crops are in safe hands with the winners of the T&G Garden to Table Young Gardener of the Year Awards announced.

More than 130 entries were received from 45 primary schools across New Zealand in the eagerly contested awards, nearly doubling the number of entries received in last year’s competition.

Developed and supported by T&G Global, one of New Zealand’s largest fresh produce growers and marketers, the awards recognise schools and students involved in the Garden to Table programme which enables primary children to grow, harvest, share and prepare fresh food.

T&G’s executive general manager New Zealand, Andrew Keaney says, “Being passionate growers ourselves working with a trust like Garden to Table is a natural fit.  We’re excited to be recognising growing champions through primary schools nationwide with these awards.

“We hope to inspire more kiwi kids to get their hands dirty and get involved in growing fresh produce. Who knows, maybe one of our young gardeners may end up working with us in the future!”

The high number of entries demonstrated the lengths primary schools are going to teach broader life lessons though gardening practices. With everything from learning about enterprise and photography to using scientific experiments to successfully grow out-of-season plants. One primary school donates veggies to their local retirement home while another collects honey from its school beehive and sells it.

The winners of the Young Gardener of the Year Awards 2018 are:

T&G Passion for Growing Award – Milford School, Milford, North Shore:

This school developed a garden specifically to attract and protect native butterflies and moths. Milford School started its thriving gardening club in 2009 thanks to the help of a parent, and since then the school garden has gone from strength to strength. Butterflies have a starring role in the school’s gardening activity. The kids grow flowers they know they’ll love and tag them to do their bit for the Moths and Butterflies of New Zealand Trust, something which actively involves the school in science learning. They have learnt practical gardening and problem-solving skills, for example, the kids had to figure out how to get water to the butterfly garden which was a long way from the water supply. The students learnt about the importance of water, the concept of rainwater collection through the installation of a rain water tank.

T&G Garden to Table Established School of the Year – North Loburn School in north Canterbury:

What started as a small garden project for this rural school has grown into a flourishing garden with nine large raised vegetable beds and three herb beds, a tunnel house and scarecrows.  The school pins much of the programme’s success to the fact that the Garden to Table activities are tweaked to fit in with the school’s rural style, as well as being largely student lead. Older students lead younger ones in group projects such as building scarecrows and vegetable signs. Last term a class planted broad beans after reading Jack and the Beanstalk in a bid to link the gardening efforts with what’s happening in the class.

T&G Garden to Table Emerging School of the Year – Wainui School, Wainui, north of Auckland:

This school encourages all of students to become kaitiaki (guardians) of the environment and has seen students who struggle in the classroom, blossom in the garden. Their learning goes beyond growing and nutrition and includes writing, maths, science and even enterprise.  The students have begun creating other sustainable products such as lip balm and ginger beer to sell.

Five very deserving and passionate Young Gardener Award 2018 winners have also been unearthed:

  1. Hannah Kome, age 9, from Cannons Creek School, Porirua
  2. Jing Mei, age 10, from Forrest Hill School, North Shore, Auckland
  3. Josh Angelo, age 11, from Holy Cross School, Miramar, Wellington
  4. Jackson Evans, age 10, from Macandrew Bay School, Dunedin
  5. Finn Meijer, age 11, from Waihopai School, Invercargill
Jackson Evans

Garden to Table ambassador and judge for the awards, Dan Mackay says, “I was absolutely blown away with the innovation, enthusiasm and extra effort the winning entries showed. Students are out there learning that gardening expands to so many areas of life. From cooking, to landscape design, to writing, photography, maths and enterprise, it’s great to see schools getting involved with all of the lessons that the garden has to offer.”

Dan judged the award entries alongside well-known chef and restauranteur Al Brown, who is also an ambassador for Garden to Table, plus Andrew Keaney (T&G) and Linda Taylor, CEO of Garden to Table.

The winning schools will each receive prizes to help their gardening ventures including fruit trees from T&G, irrigation systems from GARDENA, Hungry Bin worm farms and goodies from Tui as well as garden design help from Dan Mackay for the Emerging and Passion for Growing schools (Milford Primary School and Wainui School).

The Young Gardener of the Year Awards will run again next year with the view to empowering even more young growers.


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