Discussions with Ōtaki College identified that the College had one of the few college horticulture blocks remaining in the country and that the College was keen to see it and the associated curriculum developed. A small community garden was in place but it was struggling. Energise Ōtaki was keen to support a community/ College based initiative, given the wider links to food and energy issues. We obtained funding in 2016 as part of the Unlocking Curious Minds Fund to start the process of linking initiatives at the block with a hands-on project based curriculum, working with a range of community groups and people. In 2017 the Working Better Together Fund provided funding to allow this to be further developed.
In 2017 the project has:
- held working bees to develop the plot with a range of community volunteers and major input from Transition Towns Ōtaki, teachers and students
- involved students in planting, growing food for the Ōtaki Food Bank and experimenting with growing flowers to provide Hebe Botanicals Limited, a local business. This involved them visiting the business
- students cooking and learning how to preserve food from the garden, and
- developed strong community partnerships.