Learning on the Land
The school is lucky to have a generous sweep of land,6.5 Hectares (sixteen acres) in total. About two hectares (5 acres) are suitable for keeping livestock. The children are also involved with caring for the farm animals. We have cows, pigs and chickens which the children visit and care for. Seasonally they have young, free range eggs are sold at the office and the children love seeing piglets.
STREAM RESTORATION PROJECT
A historically important stream, Omatata borders our school grounds and our children help in restoring our wetland, they learn about collecting native seeds from trees in the area. They then grow these in our nursery and care for them until they are big enough to be planted around the school and in the wetland. Blackberry is cleared then the children replace it with the native seedlings they have grown. We are supported by Bay of Plenty Regional Council and their Environmental Enhancement Funding to continue our restoration project. If you take time to visit the area you may be lucky enough to spot one or all of the inhabitants including, Weta, Skink, Grey Heron, Praying Mantis and Stick Insects.
There are class vegetable gardens. The children are responsible for managing their own vegetable gardens, they grow in season vegetables which they can either sell at the markets, take home for dinner, or use them for cooking with at school. Kale chips in the oven are a favorite.
Each class has a different focus for the year in the gardens.
Class three learns about building houses, and in the past, they have built a chicken house for the school hens to nest and roost in. They also learn about growing vegetables and sowing seeds. They make composts, biodynamics and grow grains such as; wheat, oats and rye for grinding into flour. We have also harvested crops of Sweet Corn, Potatoes, Kumara and Pumpkins.
In class six they are building wooden rat traps and making bow and arrows. They learn about edible weeds and cooking on open fires.
Then in class seven they grow wonderful herb gardens and learn about the different uses for the herbs they grow. They make creams, gels, compresses and foot baths. They also make delicious fresh teas.
Of course the Class Three children are involved in many aspects of the ‘farm’ management with moving of fences, feeding out and looking after our cows Blossom, Hazel and Milo, who have become school personalities and received many visits from children of all ages.
From an idea of having the Class Three children build a pig- sty, complete with a little house made of mud, straw and bamboo, as part of their House-Building main lesson, we became the proud owners of pigs at the school farm. We have seen many pigs come and go over the years and currently in-situ we have Hermonie a young female Kune Kune Piglet (and the daughter of our previous pigs Lucky & Sparkle) and her partner in grime, Harry, a 3 month old Saddle Back piglet.
From this organic beginning to the farm, a vision has taken shape and is loved and enjoyed by all of our children and community members. Latest projects have included the addition of a class built Pizza Oven and the development of a hard materials shed for lessons and projects.