School children from town and country were out beautifying the district last week.
North Otago Sustainable Land Management (Noslam) organised two planting projects to enhance the district’s biodiversity and improve water quality.
On Wednesday, Five Forks School pupils dug in hundreds of native plants along the banks of the Kakanui River at Clifton Falls.
Principal Belinda Brosnan said they had “a fabulous time in the wind”, putting into practice the environmental principals they had focused on in the classroom.
Clifton Falls farmer and school parent Jane Strang showed how to place the plants in the prepared holes, cover them with compostable weed mats and protect them with biodegradable cardboard surrounds.
Mrs Strang and her husband, Lyndon, asked Five Forks School to be the ambassadors of the Clifton Falls Walkway project. Mrs Brosnan said the school “felt very privileged to accept”.
“The Strang family are working in conjunction with the support of Noslam and ORC (Otago Regional Council) as well as many wonderful community members and local schools.
“The Clifton Falls Walkway Project was a recent recipient of Otago Regional Council ECO Fund with funding application support from the Waitaki Irrigators Collective Ltd water stewardship initiative, Waitaki Water,” Mrs Brosnan said.
During a break in the planting, Department of Conservation Predator Free ranger Tim Exton arrived with local ranger Andy Powazynski to teach the children about predators of native flora and fauna and demonstrate a range of traps.
Mrs Strang said the pupils had been part of creating an amazing native corridor along their river that would be enjoyed in the future by their children and grandchildren.
On Thursday, three classrooms of year 5 and 6 pupils from Pembroke School planted areas alongside the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail at Enfield.
It was the first time many of the children had been out in the countryside in a hands-on role, deputy principal Anna Smyth said.
The smell of silage carried on the gusty wind was “a whole new experience” for them.
In preparation for the project, the school’s 270 pupils drew designs on protective sleeves to be placed around each plant, Miss Smyth said.
She was impressed by how eagerly they “got stuck in” to the planting and helped each other.
The project tied in with their studies on respect, which included for the environment, and it engaged all their senses, she said.
“They’re gorgeous kids.”
The Waitonui Milltrust Agriculture Holdings Group, which owns five farms in North Otago, donated funds for the plants.