Turning a section into an outdoor classroom

STUCK IN: Volunteers transformed Tairawhiti Environment Centre’s back section into an outdoor classroom on Saturday. Sapphire Reynolds, Glenda Smith, Anthony Zame, Leigh Jones, Heera Rigney, Charles Barrie and Theresa Zame take a break around their spiral herb garden. Picture by Paul Rickard

TAIRAWHITI Environment Centre was abuzz with volunteers on Saturday for its winter working bee.

About 20 people, young and old, spent the morning beautifying the back section and preparing garden beds for spring planting.

TEC shifted from its original Ballance Street location to a larger premises in Palmerston Road last year.

They first developed the interior with a recycling depot, shop, information centre and Rethink Waste Education Centre with Gisborne District Council.

Now with the help of the community they are transforming what was an empty back section with grass, dirt and rubble into an outdoor classroom, with raised garden beds, fruit trees, herb gardens and compost facilities.

“Since we moved here last year, there has been some good work put into transforming it,” said TEC committee secretary Charles Barrie.

“The aim of the working bee is to increase community engagement.”

While they have already held several workshops in the centre, including composting and worm farming, in the larger section they will expand the range of services.

There are plans for workshop projects on different types of gardening, including vertical gardens, rainwater collection, and Garden to Table, which is a new fruit and vegetable education workshop.

Garden to Table is a nationwide programme to train and educate children in New Zealand about growing fruit and vegetables, harvesting and cooking the produce.

TEC co-ordinator Theresa Zame said they would adopt a set of resources from that programme to deliver maara kai (food garden) workshops, not only to schools but the wider community.

Mr Barrie said the shift to the larger premises offered challenges as it was on a bigger scale, but they could also offer more services including the specialist recycling and a hub for community groups.

They have hosted GDC biodiversity forums there so far and want to open it up to other environmental and conservation groups.

“It has more potential as a hub, as a vehicle to support groups in the community.”

TAIRAWHITI Environment Centre was abuzz with volunteers on Saturday for its winter working bee.

About 20 people, young and old, spent the morning beautifying the back section and preparing garden beds for spring planting.

TEC shifted from its original Ballance Street location to a larger premises in Palmerston Road last year.

They first developed the interior with a recycling depot, shop, information centre and Rethink Waste Education Centre with Gisborne District Council.

Now with the help of the community they are transforming what was an empty back section with grass, dirt and rubble into an outdoor classroom, with raised garden beds, fruit trees, herb gardens and compost facilities.

“Since we moved here last year, there has been some good work put into transforming it,” said TEC committee secretary Charles Barrie.

“The aim of the working bee is to increase community engagement.”

While they have already held several workshops in the centre, including composting and worm farming, in the larger section they will expand the range of services.

There are plans for workshop projects on different types of gardening, including vertical gardens, rainwater collection, and Garden to Table, which is a new fruit and vegetable education workshop.

Garden to Table is a nationwide programme to train and educate children in New Zealand about growing fruit and vegetables, harvesting and cooking the produce.

TEC co-ordinator Theresa Zame said they would adopt a set of resources from that programme to deliver maara kai (food garden) workshops, not only to schools but the wider community.

Mr Barrie said the shift to the larger premises offered challenges as it was on a bigger scale, but they could also offer more services including the specialist recycling and a hub for community groups.

They have hosted GDC biodiversity forums there so far and want to open it up to other environmental and conservation groups.

“It has more potential as a hub, as a vehicle to support groups in the community.”

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