Aparima College Garden: Community Connections

In October 2020, Aparima College in Murihiku-Southland won the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Sustainable Schools Award in recognition of a number of their sustainable initiatives including local tree planting (The Tree Project), waste minimisation, vegetable gardens and a Wellbeing Walkway. These rich contexts allowed integration across a range of subjects, such as Science and English.

“The gardens act as an outdoor classroom where students can do hands-on learning.” - Sue Mailman, support teacher

Pupil Genna Woodward said she enjoyed “working on the gardens, which was satisfying and mostly done by the students", whereas the wider project "brought in helpers from the community”. The gardens had been a place of learning, as well as a haven for special-needs pupils.

Vegetables from the gardens were also used to make soup for pupils during the winter terms and were sold via the South Coast Environment Centre in return for seeds.

The garden project is supported by Rebecca Perez, who has been employed by the Board of Trustees to manage the project, along with school librarian Hollie Guyton.

‘It was a really good opportunity to create strong community links. By taking the punt and employing Rebecca and being able to use Rebecca and Hollie’s knowledge and passion and their existing links with the community, we are already building that knowledge in the community about what’s happening in the school and getting more people involved, which is a really great opportunity for us in Riverton.” - Cameron Davis, Principal Aparima College

Enviroschools Southland Regional Coordinator, Megan Bates, supports the school and has guided the students and teacher Lynne Grove through the Enviroschools Reflection process:

"...thinking about our place, practices, people and programmes and the way these interact to create a sustainable community, empowered students, effective learning and respect for cultural diversity. We became a Bronze Enviroschool and started working towards some Silver goals, particularly to increase staff and student engagement and to be more inclusive."                  Lynne Grove (teacher) and student EnviroCouncil

You can read the full story on the Enviroschools website here and find out more about how Enviroschools may be able to support your school.

Information and quotes sourced from:

Southland Express, May 28, 2020. "Pupils make positive change in environment". Read the article here.

Healthy Families Invercargill, December 7, 2020. "Growing more than just happy kids at Aparima College". Link to webpage here.

Enviroschools, December 17, 2020. "What a difference a year makes - Aparima College students reflect on 2020", by Lynne Grove and student EnviroCouncil. Story here.

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