Green thumbs growing at Epuni Kindergarten
Nothing brightens up the faces of the children at Lower Hutt's Epuni Kindergarten such as doing a bit of gardening on a sunny Thursday.
Every week a group of about eight kindy kids head to the gardens and get to work, looking after worm farms, planting vegetables and watching them grow.
They have been working as part of the charity group Common Unity Project Aotearoa.
For the project the children, along with Epuni Primary School students and the community, have been growing fresh vegetables on a disused soccer field. The food is given to locals and used in the school's kitchen.
Epuni Kindergarten head teacher Aleisha Russell said the children got to learn about the processes behind making a garden flourish.
"It's our weekly ritual. The children have taken a lot of ownership."
Quite often the children wanted to revisit the plants they were looking after the last time they were there.
Epuni Kindergarten has been involved with the Common Unity Project for the last six months and the children have had the chance to taste the food they have helped grow.
"They've taken kai home to share with their family," Russell said. "We've brought produce back like pumpkin and we made pumpkin soup."
However, the children have not been the only ones learning a thing or two about gardening.
"It's a really great learning curve for us [teachers] too," Russell said.
The Common Unity Project Aotearoa is a charity that has collaborated with Epuni Primary School to support the community with fresh food. Parents and people living in the area have often volunteered time to help out with the gardens.
The fruit and vegetables grown in the garden have been used by the charity for their Koha Kitchen. Three days a week cooked lunches are provided to students at the school. Students, their families and community members cook the food together in the school hall kitchen.
The project also runs a honey collective where a group of Lower Hutt residents take care of several beehives, producing honey to share with the community.