A new garden within the Botanic Gardens is being planned to help teach children that food doesn't grow on supermarket shelves.
The Wellington City Council is putting $750,000 towards the project, and a fundraising drive will start next month to help make up the rest of the $1.5 million needed to design and create a children's garden, and a further $1m for upkeep and educational programmes.
The council's contribution is funded through the Plimmer Bequest, a trust that helps finance natural beautification and planting projects in the city. Lagoda Legacy has donated $50,000 to the project.
The children's garden would cover a 1500-square-metre section at the centre of the gardens, between the playground and the Treehouse education and interpretive centre.
It will include an orchard, wetlands and terraced gardens, and rice, taro, fruit and vegetables will be grown in it.
Botanic Gardens manager David Sole said the project was designed to teach children that "macaroni doesn't grow on trees", and to display the role of plants in providing food, textiles, fuel and construction materials.
By teaching today's children about the the importance of plants, it would be "providing an intergenerational seed" for future education, he said. "It's contributing to our children's future and their children's future."
The garden would be interactive to help children understand the plant world, he said.
But hands-on experience was tougher on plants, which was why the extra $1m was needed. "The experience overseas is that the use is very intensive."
A contract to design the garden is open for tenders.
Council environment portfolio leader Helene Ritchie said she hoped the final design would be less stylised and more focused on children getting their hands dirty.
"This will be an inspiration and a creative space for the children," she said, while labelling it "one of the most important projects that Wellington City Council is doing".
"It's looking to probably our most important asset - our children."
The first seeds are planned to be planted late this year, with an official opening early in 2016.
The $750,000 from the Plimmer Bequest will fund the development of the first stage, including detailed design and planning, and construction of key parts of the garden and associated planting.
The second stage, paid for through fundraising, will involve the development of shelter, interpretation and renewable energy parts.
- The Dominion Post
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