Free fruit trees for kindergartens

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A local gardener is on a mission to keep Nelson kids healthy, and is donating his time and resources to plant fruit trees in all 19 kindergartens throughout the region.

Graham Smith from Garden Property Services Ltd has teamed up with Waimea Nurseries and Green Waste To Zero, and will be planting every kindergarten from Nelson to Golden Bay with four fruit trees – a plum tree, an apple tree, a feijoa tree, and a mandarin tree.

With two young children of his own, Graham says he has “seen firsthand” the sugar-filled lunch boxes kids are bringing to kindergarten.

“I felt the need to do something about it,” he says. “Our mission is to try and shape the health and well-being of current and future generations of children by providing better access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Graham approached Trish Casey, CEO of the Nelson Tasman Kindergarten Association, with his idea, and before long it was “all go,” with the planting kicking off last Tuesday at Victory Square Kindergarten.

Children are a big part of the planting process and are encouraged to help dig the holes, plant the trees, shovel in the compost, and stamp down the earth. “We hope to educate them in the process from the start, and when they are established they will have the freedom of choice to pick fresh fruit,” says Graham.

“Fruit can be quite expensive at times, so this should also give the kindergartens an opportunity to provide fresh fruit to kids throughout the year. With proper pruning and training you can get bumper crops from dwarf trees.”

Trish Casey says the trees will be a great opportunity to teach children about growing food in our own backyards and making use of the produce. “We are very appreciative of these two companies for their contribution to our kindergartens,” she says.

A total of 76 fruit trees, worth around $2500 have been donated by Waimea Nurseries, and organic compost has been donated by Green Waste To Zero.

Kate Marshall from Waimea Nurseries says she is excited to be backing the project.

“We donate trees all the time,” she says. “In the scheme of things it’s not many trees for us, but it will make such a big difference to the kindergartens.”

The project will take Graham around 60 hours to complete, which is all out of his own time. “I’ll just work it around my jobs,” he says. “We’re doing it for the kids – it’s about time we gave something back to the community.”