Gardening is child’s play

From left Kendal Baird, 9, Amelia-Rose Bubb, 9, Sophia Gawler, 8, and Lilly-Mae Bubb, 6, from Leamington Primary School at the Froude Reserve pop up garden, Leamington, Cambridge. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

Caroline Barns-Graham is part of the kaitiakitanga – garden guardians – of the Froude Reserve pop-up gardens in Leamington.

She tends to the crops with the help of a team of gardeners from the neighbouring Little Sparrows Educare.

These gardeners range from infancy to preschool age, and love growing their own veggies, she said Barns-Graham.

“Even though they don’t have full comprehension at infancy, they love getting their hands in the dirt and picking flowers.”

The pop-up edible garden project has been running since 2020. There are two in Cambridge – both in Leamington – the first was at the Thompson Street playground.

The kaitiakitanga have recently been given full management of the gardens by the Cambridge Community Board.

Board member Elise Badger maintains a liaison role between the guardians and the council.

“The community board provides $100 of funding per garden bed which is supplementary to the donated seedlings by Amber Garden Centre, and garden mix provided by Waipā District Council,” she said.

“While the gardens continue to have guardians on board to care for them, we will continue to support their operation.”

The Froude Reserve garden has been running since 2021.

Barns-Graham and the rest of the Little Sparrows staff have loved watching the children grow alongside the herbs and vegetables they plant.

Learning to grow their own crops has encouraged them to try foods they normally wouldn’t.

“It’s really great because when they grow it, they try it,” said Barns-Graham.

“If it’s their broccoli, and they’re growing it and visiting it, and then it gets cooked and shared, they’re more inclined to try something new, and they take ownership of the veggies.”

Growing crops has also helped the children learn about sustainability.

“We’ve been looking at plastic packaging, looking at what’s in our lunchboxes, and things like that. Recently we’ve been learning how to make our own yoghurt.

“It’s really nice to send something home to the whānau.”

The rest of the community also frequently enjoys the gardens, and many Cambridge residents come through to pick their own veggies.

Families love to spend time together at the garden, said Barns-Graham. Little Sparrows hosts community days where parents can come pick veggies with their children.

  • Sarah Morcom is a Wintec journalism student.

Garden supporters: From left Sophia Gawler, 8, Lilly-Mae Bubb, 6, Amelia-Rose Bubb, 9, and Kendal Baird, 9, from Leamington Primary School at the Froude Reserve pop up garden, Leamington, Cambridge. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

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