Aquinas College teachers and students have worked on a year-long community garden project where the produce is grown directly to feed the homeless.
Local Charity ‘Under the Stars’, who support the Homeless by preparing and sharing home-cooked meals on Thursday lunches and Saturday dinners, are the recipients of this first crop. Organiser Laura Wood is delighted with the result after connecting with Aquinas Project Leader and Science teacher Mat Synge last year. “It’s been fantastic to be able to use freshly picked produce in our meals. Their newly rebuilt garden is looking great!
Mr Synge has ensured the produce is grown in a biodynamic way – using a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to food production. Science, Food Technology, and Design classes have learned valuable soil management, nutrition, irrigation, and pest control knowledge.
Construction of the garden, led by Hard Technology teacher Mr Peter Nicholson and student-teacher Gene McNae was undertaken by Year 12 Product Development students Blair Bromwich and Alex Hilton. The compound includes a kitchen herb garden, ten planter boxes, compost bins, an irrigation system, and a purpose-built ‘clean-up area’ complete with sink and running water!
Mikare Smith, Religious Education teacher’s Faith in Action students, took over the gardens day-to-day maintenance with weeding, harvesting and preparing the produce for distribution. Mikare says the project’s success is down to student groups and teachers’ willingness to work together. “We can’t all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu (a small but precious offering).
“I’m excited and grateful to offer these veggies to our volunteers to cook up into delicious dishes for our homeless and hungry guests,” says Laura “and it’s great to see students finding ways to give back to their community.