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Published: 2002-12-03 00:00:00

Children at Whitikahu School near Taupiri should check their thumbs. Thanks to Environment Waikato and the local community, they may all be going green!

This week, the small Waikato school was granted $2,500 from the Regional Council to help develop an organic vegetable garden and native garden.

For the 81 students, it's a chance to learn how to grow their own vegetables – and make some cash on the side by selling produce to parents.

For the last 18 months, one class at the school has successfully grown organic vegetables planted according to the Maori moon calendar. Now other classes want their own gardens, and the school applied to the Regional Council's Environmental Initiatives Fund for help.

The Fund is set up to help support community-based environmental projects. This year, it is expected to allocate around $240,00 throughout the Region.

Environment Committee Chair, Councillor Lois Livingston, said the school has already shown that the gardening project teaches children how to identify and care for native plants. Eventually, the school hopes to create a native area for children to enjoy during play, as well as an outdoor study area. Local families have donated a number of native trees and the local sawmill has donated wood chips for mulch.

Councillor Livingston said it was obvious the school enjoyed community support and Council was pleased to do its bit.

"Teaching children to appreciate plants when they are young is a tremendous thing to do. This is a great way to help set up some lifetime habits and really teach kids how to respect and love their environment."