Growing a Future for New Zealand Children

Children at South Auckland schools are learning to grow and maintain fruit and vegetable gardens through OKE’s ‘Growing a Future’ initiative.

OKE ‘Chief Go Getter’ Paul Dickson founded the initiative to empower children to grow their food sustainability. Dole New Zealand supports OKE with financial support to help with purchasing the garden equipment, volunteer support at the working bees, and helping with building the garden beds and planting.

Dickson says “It was never my intention to start a kids’ gardening charity, it just evolved from helping to build a garden at Papatoetoe West in 2015 and from there, schools kept asking for help to get their gardens started.”

Described as ‘outdoor classrooms’, the gardens include raised beds, a greenhouse, composting facilities, and irrigation. The benefits are plentiful – studies show that gardening boosts positive moods, as well as the obvious benefit of being able to grow and eat nutritious food.

“When it comes to impacting the kids, the benefits of OKE gardens are huge. The spaces we build can be used for all school-based learning – from science, to life skills and gardening – and provides an opportunity for kids to just be kids, getting outside in nature and socialising with one another in a positive, judgement free zone. Gardening has also been shown to positively impact psychological wellbeing, increase levels of self-esteem, and provide essential physical exercise and activity – the combination of all these benefits is exactly why we do what we do here at OKE”, says Dickson.

You can read more about the initiative and donate to OKE at www.oke.org.nz.

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