Kids get growing

BY SOPHIE PREECE
Last updated 08:26 01/10/2010
Fortunes

Little diggers: Kacey and Holly Fortune get planting at the Marlborough Community Gardens.

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A nine-year-old boy grows vegetables for his elderly neighbours, two-year-old twins stand vigil over emerging seeds and the Marlborough Farmers' Market and Community Gardens sprout a new kids gardening initiative.

For Marlborough woman Tina Fortune, the road to strong communities is lined with gardens.

The manager of the Marlborough Farmers' Market, initiator of the Mini Marketers, trustee manager of the Marlborough Community Gardens and creator of a new mobile kitchen classroom initiative, says gardens and dining room tables can be the perfect environment for growing better families and communities.

"For me, it is all about bringing people together."

Now she's merging several of her roles to help teach children about growing, cooking and eating fresh produce.

This Sunday the Community Gardens will kickstart a new satellite children's garden at the A&P Show Grounds, so the Mini Marketers, 50 young offshoots of the Marlborough Farmers' Market, can learn about gardening.

"The mantra of the Mini Marketers is `growing healthy kids one marketer at a time' and this project is all about delivering on that," she says.

Every Sunday morning of the Farmers' Market summer season, the children will develop the gardens, building eight raised beds, furnishing them with soil and worms, establishing compost to feed them (using waste from the market), planting the seeds, nurturing the plants and eventually harvesting the produce, learning all the while about helpful and harmful creatures in the garden, looking after their equipment, and respecting one another.

After harvest, the project will move into a new kitchen classroom, where the children can see how the produce is transformed into delicious meals.

The kitchen, as yet unbuilt and unnamed, is supported by the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board's nutrition and physical activity programme.

Spokeswoman Maria Baxter says they are really proud of the initiative, "because research shows gardening leads to improved health, improved nutritional knowledge and improved wellbeing".

Tina says the mobile learning unit will have a kitchen and seating for about 20, and will be entirely hands-on.

"We'll let the kids get in there and get their hands in the food."

Bench tops will be both child-height and adult-height friendly, so everyone has a comfortable learning environment.

In the kitchen and garden, Tina will use children to teach children, with established greenfingers like nine-year-old Joshua Marshall, runner-up in last year's New Zealand Gardener magazine's Gardener of the Year award, and 10-year-old Sophie Dawson, Tina's unofficial assistant manager, sharing their passion and knowledge with kids less experienced in the ways of digging dirt.

READER GIVEAWAY

The Marlborough Farmers' Market is celebrating its 10th anniversary with the launch of a beautiful new calendar with market shots by Marlborough photographer Jim Tannock. They have five to give away to lucky school-age readers. Available for collection from the Marlborough Farmers' Market in November.

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To enter, write your name, address and daytime phone number on the back of an envelope and send it to: Farmers Market Calendar, PO Box 242, Blenheim, to reach us by October 15.

- The Marlborough Express

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