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Green fingers ... Maheno School pupils Ruby Bentley (6) and Hunter Winmill (6) admire the junior school's vegetable garden. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Maheno School pupils are fond of a bit of gardening, a growing trend at the school south of Oamaru.

It is part of the Kids Growing programme, an initiative of the Waitaki Community Gardens Trust.

Waitaki Community Gardens co-ordinator Sophia Leon de la Barra said Kids Growing was in 13 schools in the district – including one secondary school and one early childhood education centre – and aimed to teach children more about gardens and what was in them.

Many of those schools have gardens of their own.

Maheno School has several raised gardens and fruit trees, as well as a worm farm and compost bin.

“We teach gardening, cooking and hands-on science, using the garden as a classroom. They’ll learn about the benefit of bugs, compost and germination.”

The school’s junior pupils have their own garden, where they have planted potatoes and yams.

As part of the initiative, both of Oamaru’s New World supermarkets have provided the school and others Little Garden seedlings donated by the public, while Maheno School’s fruit trees were paid for by the North Otago Tree Planting Association and planted by pupils.

Maheno School principal Ryan Fraser said the initiative had been popular at the school.

“It creates these life skills,’ he said.

“It’s something they can do when they’re at home too. A lot of our kids like mucking in – we have a garden club and they love it.”

He said there was a lot of excitement when seeds germinated and popped out above ground, and when fruit started to grow on trees.

Maheno School pupil Hunter Winmill (6) said he enjoyed all aspects of gardening.

“I love weeding. And I also like planting and watering the garden.”

Miss de la Barra said Kids Growing was thriving at schools around the district, and had been “well received”.

She also wanted to introduce a “digital gardening programme” to schools in conjunction with Code Club Aotearoa.