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Upcycling waste timber and teaching gardening

Yummy vegetables galore is a fantastic outcome for South Auckland schools where Citycare Property is supporting the Garden to Table not-for-profit organisation.

Massive garden planters have been built by the Citycare Property minor capital works team using recycled timber. They’re now in place at two low-decile schools complete with soil and a multitude of different vegetable seedlings.

Citycare Property’s involvement all started during the Covid-19 lockdown when Quantity Surveyor Debra Collings researched ideas to reduce construction waste in the East Tamaki yard through upcycling, reuse or repurposing.

At the same time, she wanted to link the waste reduction to giving back in the local community.

Debra found the Garden to Table programme was operating in 23 local schools in the Auckland Council region where Citycare Property operates. She devised a way for Citycare Property to supplement the teaching of essential skills by providing garden planters filled with produce.

Garden to Table’s mission is for kids to get their hands dirty and learn to grown, harvest, prepare and cook fresh, seasonal food. The charity provides resources for teachers and the kids to learn in the classroom and practice their skills in the school gardens.

Debra is part of the Citycare Property minor capital works team working along with the Citycare Property horticulture team on this initiative. 

Together they built two massive planter boxes using recycled timber decking and delivered them to Flat Bush School in Otara and Takanini School. Then the planter boxes were filled with vegetable seedlings during a planting session with the schools’ students.

Citycare has committed to providing a planter box at one school each month for the next year – next up is Wiri Central School once the COVID-19 situation allows.

“This is a fantastic initiative that delivers positive sustainability and community engagement outcomes,” Citycare Property Executive General Manager Peter Lord says.

The planter box project also involves lots of collaboration.

At Flat Bush School one of the teachers mentioned to Debra there was a water tank in place next to the garden, but it was not being utilised for the school gardens as there was no tap attached.

Citycare Water Senior Waterman Young Prole stepped in to set up a tap so roof run-off water can be used to water the gardens.

Most importantly, the initiative has been supported through thousands of vegetable seedling donations by Citycare Property’s local nursery suppliers Zealandia and Seedlings Systems.

“This really is a heart-warming journey which means so much to the schools we have visited so far,” Debra says.

Flat Bush School Deputy Principal Janetta Mayerhofler says, “Thank you so so much for everything. The garden bed looks amazing and Young did a fantastic job attaching the tap to our water tank.

“Now our waste water can be put to good use watering our new garden so we feel like we are environmental warriors,” she says.

Flat Bush School Debra and John

Flat Bush School pupils planting the vegetable seedlings with the help of Citycare Property’s Debra Collings and John He.

Flat Bush School Britney

Kids plant vegetables galore to fill the planter box with the help of Citycare Property’s Britney Cunningham-Lee.