Green thumbs ... Enviro warriors taking part in the Guardians of the Gardens spent last week's session learning where to plant seeds. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Dylan Muller does not want to see the Earth destroyed.

That was the 13-year-old environmental warrior’s motivation for joining Guardians of the Gardens, a new after-school programme teaching children how to care for the environment and learn more about gardening.

The programme, held at the Waitaki Community Gardens and facilitated by Hapori o te Ao’s Sophia Leon de la Barra and Ali Stock, follows a similar format to Scouts – the 13 participants are given badges for finishing a unit.

The group learned about the importance of propagation and pollination in the first two weeks, and other topics will be covered during the 10-week programme.

Dylan said it was fun spending time in nature with his friends, and the programme, supported by the Rotary Club of Oamaru and the Colin Jones Trust, was important for learning more about the environment.

“I kind of don’t want to see the earth burning – I like it here,” Dylan said.

Madeline Mackenzie (11), Lily Murphy (11), and Erin Hyslop (12) all said they enjoyed learning about the various seeds, and ways to plant different trees.

Erin said it was important the younger generation learned how to care for the environment.

“We can learn how to do this in the future and if we want to plant trees or veges, we know how to do it,” she said.

The group was given a project to take seeds home during the school holidays, germinate them, and bring them back in their growing form after the holidays.

Miss Leon de la Barra said the response from the group having its “first taste” of the programme had been fantastic.

“The idea is to come up to the gardens to have fun, and inspire the next generation to feel that sense of custodianship to the earth and kai tiaki [guardianship and protection] and be caretakers for their environment,” she said.

“We are living in a generation that’s increasingly, I guess, isolated from the natural world to a certain extent. It is really important to connect with nature and feel that sense of custodianship because it grounds you, as well as giving you a sense of purpose.”

Another Guardians of the Gardens programme would be run next year.