From the rolling hills of Wainui to the fertile soils of north Canterbury and the crisper climate of Invercargill, the country can rest easy knowing its future crops are in safe hands.

More than 130 entries were received from 45 primary schools in the eagerly contested 2018 awards, nearly doubling the number of entries received in last year’s competition.

After much digging, the winners of the Young Gardener of the Year Awards 2018 are:

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 NZ 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 fully flourished garden with nine large raised vegetable, 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

Wainui, north of Auckland

This school encourages all of their students to become kaitiaki (guardians) of our 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 Awards have also been unearthed:

Hannah Kome

age 9, from Cannons Creek School, Porirua

Hannah says: “I love digging vegetables like carrots because you do not know how big they will be when you pull them out of the garden. It’s like a vege lucky dip!”

“My Aunty used to help in the garden every Thursday for the whole year. Mrs Alison was so grateful for our help over the holidays that she took us out for a special morning tea to a garden café. I had never been to a café before so me and my cousin were so excited. I talk about that day and remember it. So when I think about flowers and Garden to Table it will always make me feel special.”

Jing Mei

age 10, from Forrest Hill School, North Shore, Auckland

Jing says: “My proudest moment is clearing and helping Mum to put compost in the garden. I feel like I have given more nutrition to the plants for them to grow better and also reduce some of the food that would go to landfill. I’m looking forward to doing more gardening because I love gardening and helping the environment as much as I can.”

Josh Angelo

age 11, from Holy Cross School, Miramar, Wellington

Josh says: “My personal favourite thing to do in the garden is making experiments. I like to do experiments so we can help the plant growth, like once when I planted a plant when it was supposed to be planted in the summer but we planted it in the spring so we had to make a container or something else that would keep the plant warm, but still let it breathe.”

“The final thing I like doing in the garden is composting. My reason for this is when I turn the compost I always see long pink noodle looking things but then I realise that they’re actually just worms. Once I saw a mouse running around in the compost and I thought it was just a rotten vegetable with mould on it. Sometimes I wonder where they live and what it’s like being a mouse.”

“My favourite thing I have ever grown in the garden is an avocado tree which I grew in 2017. We named it the DABBING AVOCADO.”

Jackson Evans

age 10, from Macandrew Bay School, Dunedin

Jackson says: “With gardening you get involved and see things grow from seed to harvest. It’s great because you also know that your produce is fresh because you grew it. You know exactly what has gone into it. I also get to hang out with a friend (Matthew) who loves gardening as much as I do.”

“My proudest moment was when we were harvesting corn in Dunedin. People struggle to grow corn in Dunedin and the South Island because it’s too cold and we don’t have a slow changing climate. The weather pattern is quite unpredictable. The corn we grew was super sweet, and I took it home and my Mum cooked it for dinner (yum).”

Finn Meijer

age 11, from Waihopai School, Invercargill

Finn says: “I love not only growing the vegetables, but cooking and potting the vegetables as well. My favourite is making kale chips because it isn’t too hard and they taste really good. I also love having a beehive at school which we make honey with. I also love weeding and taking responsibility with the garden too.”