Volunteers from Energise Ōtaki recently organised a Saturday morning workshop to encourage children to grow lettuce and take some seeds home and look after them. This workshop is part of a larger project to establish a small community garden at Birthright Ōtaki.

Kuki Kaa , Hera Waka,  Kere Karaa, and Faith (from left to right)  getting the containers ready for planting.

A lettuce plant is only a few cents to buy, but buying lettuce in the supermarket is expensive and not much fun. By taking the garden to people’s homes, we hope that families will see how easy it is to grow a few basic vegetables, and hopefully inspire families to experiment with growing different vegetables in due course. Additionally, plants grown and harvested by children are often a powerful motivator for children to eat those vegetables too.

Flowers make the mini-gardens look nice, and will attract bees once the seeds start coming up.

Volunteers brought containers (with holes in the bottom) and explained to the children how important it is to build up the growing environment with newspaper to keep the moisture, stones to prevent wet feet for the plants, and good soil so that they have some nourishment. Five children came and loved doing this planting. Not only did they plant their containers but also helped plant the spare plants in the community garden bed which was established last year.

Planting in the community garden bed.

The children put labels for the seeds, and on their containers, as well as on the re-purposed milk bottles to be used as watering cans to encourage regular watering. It was great to see how the older children helped with the writing and everybody felt proud to have their own mini vegetable garden to take home.

After the morning planting, Birthright Ōtaki provided a wonderful brunch for everyone. Our next activity will be to prepare food from the plants grown in the community bed – zucchini fritters and tomato salad sounded very good to all of us. A special thanks goes to Watson’s Garden Centre for giving us a 50% discount for plants and soil.