New Zealand’s budding young gardeners and schools have been unearthed after some serious digging by a judging panel including acclaimed chef and restauranteur Al Brown and landscaper and TV personality Dan Mackay.

T&G is proud to have supported the 2018 Young Gardener of the Year Awards, along with the Garden to Table Trust, for a second year with 130 entries, more than double last year, from primary schools and children across the country.

The huge volume of entries has been pruned down to five budding young gardeners and three top schools after much deliberation from the judging panel, which also included Andrew Keaney from T&G and Linda Taylor, CEO of Garden to Table.

T&G Passion for Growing Award – Milford School, Milford, North Shore

This school developed a garden specifically to attract and protect native butterflies and moths. Milford School started its thriving gardening club in 2009 thanks to the help of a parent, and since then the school garden has gone from strength to strength. Butterflies have a starring role in the school’s gardening activity. The kids grow flowers they know they’ll love and tag them to do their bit for the Moths and Butterflies of New Zealand Trust, something which actively involves the school in science learning. They have learnt practical gardening and problem-solving skills, for example, the kids had to figure out how to get water to the butterfly garden which was a long way from the water supply. The students learnt about the importance of water, the concept of rainwater collection through the installation of a rain water tank.

T&G Garden to Table Established School of the Year – North Loburn School, north Canterbury
What started as a small garden project for this rural school has grown into a flourishing garden with nine large raised vegetable beds and three herb beds, a tunnel house and scarecrows.  The school pins much of the programme’s success to the fact that the Garden to Table activities are tweaked to fit in with the school’s rural style, as well as being largely student lead. Older students lead younger ones in group projects such as building scarecrows and vegetable signs. Last term a class planted broad beans after reading Jack and the Beanstalk in a bid to link the gardening efforts with what’s happening in the class.

T&G Garden to Table Emerging School of the Year – Wainui School, north Auckland

This school encourages all of students to become kaitiaki (guardians) of the environment and has seen students who struggle in the classroom, blossom in the garden. Their learning goes beyond growing and nutrition and includes writing, maths, science and even enterprise. The students have begun creating other sustainable products such as lip balm and ginger beer to sell.

Five very deserving and passionate Young Gardener Award 2018 winners have also been unearthed:

  • Hannah Kome, age 9, from Cannons Creek School, Porirua
  • Jing Mei, age 10, from Forrest Hill School, North Shore, Auckland
  • Josh Angelo, age 11, from Holy Cross School, Miramar, Wellington
  • Jackson Evans, age 10, from Macandrew Bay School, Dunedin
  • Finn Meijer, age 11, from Waihopai School, Invercargill

Garden to Table ambassador and judge for the awards, Dan Mackay says, “I was absolutely blown away with the innovation, enthusiasm and extra effort the winning entries showed. Students are out there learning that gardening expands to so many areas of life. From cooking, to landscape design, to writing, photography, maths and enterprise, it’s great to see schools getting involved with all of the lessons that the garden has to offer.”

The winning schools will each receive prizes to help their gardening ventures including fruit trees from T&G, irrigation systems from GARDENA, Hungry Bin worm farms and goodies from Tui Garden Products as well as garden design help from Dan Mackay for the Emerging and Passion for Growing schools (Milford Primary School and Wainui School).

The T&G Garden to Table Young Gardener of the Year Awards will run again next year with the view to empowering even more young growers and encouraging kiwis to live a healthy, active lifestyle.