Kai oasis for Kiwi Kids

After receiving funding from the Kai Ora Fund to create a vegetable garden space, Kiwi Kids Early Learning Centre in Onerahi has been full steam ahead creating a kai oasis in their centre ‘park.’

Centre owner Jane Allen says it had always been a goal to have an onsite vege garden, which would help feed the kiwi kids’ tamariki and their wider centre community – also expressing an Enviroschools Guiding Principle of Sustainable Communities.

After filling out the funding application form in late 2023, Jane received a call to say Kiwi Kids had been successful securing $4,180 towards their garden project. The centre which borders an area of green space, fondly known as the ‘Kiwi Kids park’ was the perfect spot to establish the gardens.

The area is a space where the tamariki can go with their kaiako for a change of scenery and is already home to an orchard, cubby house and climbing frame. Work for the garden took place once the autumn weather kicked in ensuring better planting conditions and cooler weather.

“We waited until after summer because we wanted to make sure the gardens could be watered easily, rather than in the heat. The kids have recently planted the vege gardens and have become kaitiaki (guardians) of the new space,” says Jane.

With veges such as spinach, silver beet, broccoli and bok choy, plus flowers to assist with pollination, now in the ground, one of the first learnings for the tamariki has been around pest control. Threats like Pūkeko, caterpillars and slugs are never far away, so research is underway to find suitable natural pest deterrents and give tamariki the opportunity to use problem solving skills.

Jane says it will be rewarding for the children to see what veges look like growing from the ground rather than on a supermarket shelf. “We have our own kitchen, so the food will go from garden to table and spares can go home to families.”

Girl wearing a cycle helmet holding a tomato plant.

Next on the project list is sorting the irrigation for the tunnel and flower bed, as well as adding some extra fruit trees to the already established orchard.

Tu meke Kiwi Kids!