From a dry kikuyu lawn a few years ago to a lush, abundant school garden – this weekend, Kapiti Coasters are invited to visit Paekakariki School's thriving garden and nursery.
The school garden is holding its first-ever Labour Weekend Plant Sale this Saturday, benefiting from the local community's expertise and commitment to growing. With Labour weekend the traditional time to be planting tomatoes, the students and parents have been busy growing plenty of different kinds.
Local treasures include tomatoes that have been grown in Paekakariki village for years, with seed saved from the strongest plants over time to build up heirlooms well-suited to Kapiti conditions. "I always grow cherry tomatoes for the kids, then I like to try a few different kinds and save seeds from the best," says member, Kapiti Coast District Council Green Gardener Hannah Zwartz. "That's how local heirlooms are developed over time, tried and proven in local conditions."
`Sweet Virginia' is a large yellow tomato with fiery red streaks, excellent in salads. Other favourites include Raima's Yellow Pear, Hugh's Plum and Baxter's Early Bush. As well as a range of vegetables, companion plants include lettuces, basil, bishops flower, marigolds and other herbs along with natives, succulents and perennials. Most seedlings are $1-$2 with funds going towards Paekakariki School garden club, which meets every Wednesday to garden with students and parent volunteers.
This year all Paekakariki's Year 6 students spent an afternoon in the garden once a week for one term, with the keenest having the opportunity to opt in for ongoing sessions. Volunteers are also at the garden one lunchtime per week for all students to spend time there. Snacking on the fresh produce is encouraged, with broad beans and carrots the current favourites.
Paekakariki School Plant Sale, Paekakariki School, Wellington Rd, 9am-1pm, Saturday 25 October.