From vege patch to big screen
Hobbits had their red carpet moment last week; on Wednesday it's the turn of Avalon Intermediate's green-thumbed film stars.
A music video/short film put together by pupils in the school's gardening club and teachers Paascalino Schaller and Sue McKee is one of 20 finalists in the national The Outlook for Someday sustainability film challenge.
Principal Ian Hastie says when he first saw the video, he told the pupils ''I'd like to see anyone beat this!''
Sure enough, judges of the 191 entries that came in from more than 700 young people aged 7 to 24 also rated the Avalon Intermediate film I Grow a Garden.
Mr Hastie decided to put all nine pupils involved and their two teachers on a plane to join other finalists at the December 5 red carpet ceremony at Auckland's The Edge performing arts and entertainment hub.
The Avalon pupils have already won $1000 for their school, and are in the running to pick up the top prize of $8000 of film production training and resources, or other special awards.
The nine pupils are the ''hard core'' members of art teacher Sue McKee's gardening group, which spends one and a half hours every Thursday after school weeding and looking after vegetables growing in a glasshouse and raised beds in a corner of the grounds.
The pupils showed Hutt News crops including tomatoes, garlic, yams, zucchini, strawberries and potatoes, including unusual Maori potato varieties. There are also pear and apple trees that Mr Hastie acquired from an orchard in the Wairarapa, and feijoa and lemon trees.
The kids said it helped them learn new skills, appreciate the environment and plant gardens at home.
Shania Thorn said some vegetables that she'd previously dismissed as yucky -zucchini for one - tasted much better when you grew them yourself.
Mr Schaller, a first year ICT and music teacher, said he and the youngsters brainstormed and decided their film should show ''how cool it is to be sustainable''.
Sometimes all the talk about recycling and composting can ''make it sound like a chore and a drag,'' he said.
''We wanted to focus on the positives... make it like the coolest thing and that if you're not doing it, you're missing out.''
They devised a very catchy rap-style song, with the kids sitting in the school vege patch with guitars, and singing using zucchinis and carrots as microphones.
''It's pretty awesome,'' Anna Trethewey said.
Food from the garden supplies the school's food technology classes.
Ms McKee said the gardening club helps to get pupils thinking about healthy food. For example eating a rhubarb pie they'd made was the first time many of them had tried that vegetable.
They even used herbs they'd grown to add scent to paper they made in art class.