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Growing good kai

Last updated 11:53 12/06/2012
Northtec Garden
Hamish Maclean
HARVEST TIME: NorthTec students and tutor Justin Blaikie, fifth from left, share some of the fruits of their labour at a Kaikohe student garden.

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NorthTec students are getting a taste of commercial gardening in Kaikohe.

Pupils in Justin Blaikie's Sustainable Rural Development level 4 class have just harvested their winter vegetables.

Mr Blaikie says Kaikohe is a good growing area but is underutilised. Growers' markets could benefit from the skills the 12 students are acquiring.

Picking the right time to grow specific crops is just one of the "simple solutions" he teaches.

"We're just trying to get some skills together so that people can take these things back to their own communities or even their own homes," Mr Blaikie says.

The courses are on sustainability, using and developing land. Students also learn about building sustainable homes. Business skills, including tax law, are also included.

Jimmy Paewhenua, Dwayne Wharerau, Reihana Broomfield, Mannix Selwyn, David Urumao, Kurt Kainamu, and Rangihana Anderson were on hand for the harvest.

Esme Sherwin, Wayne Haigh, Susan Henare, Elix Latimer and Liam Cross were absent.

Mr Blaikie is an enthusiastic supporter of their work.

"At a simple level, to be able to feed their families – or at a wider level, their communities – is an important achievement," he says

The poverty in some areas presents these kinds of activities as a "no brainer". The lack of knowledge is the main obstacle, he says.

Harnessing the potential of the environment and then doing things that sustain it is something from which many Far North communities can benefit, he says.

"I'm really proud of this, this is one of the best gardens I've seen students make, the potential is here."

Mr Paewhenua says he knew "zilch" about gardening before he started the course. He says it fits in with his values.

"It brings your family together if you were to do it as a family, it reduces your cost of living."

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