The dominance of quick and easy packaged food is fading, with
children at Queenstown schools and pre-schools learning to
grow their own food and reduce their packaging through the
Queenstown Montessori head teacher Alex Hoffman said the
programme was closely linked to the Montessori principles of
respecting the environment and people.
She remembered when she attended kindergarten there was a
teacher who "had a love for mother nature". Now Ms Hoffman
hoped to pass that love on to today's children.
"To give this little spark to children and they carry on with
it ... they might remember one day that they had a teacher in
kindergarten who loved nature."
The number of lunch wrappers was monitored and Ms Hoffman
said the children - the new generation - had been informing
their parents about reducing and reusing.
Plastic, paper, apple cores and tin were "planted", then dug
up eight weeks' later so the children could see the
importance of recycling.
The programme, which runs nationally, is facilitated locally
by Simon Williams from Wanaka Wastebusters, who liaised with
Queenstown schools on behalf of the Queenstown Lakes District
Ms Hoffman said Queenstown Montessori was at the bronze
Enviroschools level and planned to obtain its silver in a
"For silver, the only thing we needed was a closer link to
The children had helped plant a community vegetable garden in
front of the pre-school and there were plans to collect
rubbish from the Queenstown Gardens.
Across the road at Queenstown Primary School, the
Enviroschools programme has been running for six years,
meaning the majority of children at the school have been
exposed to environmental education.
Teacher Nicky Gray said because of the programme, pupils were
"much more aware" of where food came from and of the
packaging around lunches.
"We talk a lot about healthy lunches, but the things that
aren't packaged are actually a lot healthier."
The main project at present was the vegetable garden, which
the pupils "loved" working on.
Pupils also nurtured kowhai trees for Project Gold, a
Department of Conservation initiative which aimed to restore
Maori cultural values were a part of the programme, and an
environmental hui between schools in the region was held to
look at what others were doing and to share their
Queenstown Primary School was also planning to lift its level
to a silver soon and Ms Gray said the step was to make the
programme more pupil driven.
"We thought once a month we would get the worm farm monitors
to meet and discuss what's working and what's not working,
and then we would get the gardeners to meet.
"Getting the kids to take control."