Spuds helping grow communities

Members of the Rotary Club of Belfast and Kaiapoi are all concentration planting a crop of...
Members of the Rotary Club of Belfast and Kaiapoi are all concentration planting a crop of potatoes to help raise funds for community projects it supports. Photo: supplied
The humble spud is giving a financial boost to community projects in the Belfast and Kaiapoi areas.

Blue roadside stalls selling new potatoes helped contribute $60,000 to the Rotary Club of Belfast-Kaiapoi’s fundraising efforts last year.

Club publicity officer Graham Robertson said all proceeds from the sale of the potatoes went directly towards funding the club’s various initiatives, which benefited schools, charities and communities.

The annual new potato fundraiser runs from the first week in December until Christmas Eve.

The exclusive Cliff potatoes are grown locally.

"The Rotary Club provides community services and support which responds to the needs of the local community it is based in.

"We are particularly passionate about working closely with those organisations or groups that work with young people and the elderly who need a helping hand," Mr Robertson said.

"To understand what help we can provide in the right place we align ourselves with community organisations, which includes the Belfast Community Network Board that links us to groups and clubs, and are appreciative of the valuable insights this relationship provides us," he said.

This year the club supplied Chromebooks and associated educational software packages to local primary schools in the Belfast and Kaiapoi areas.

Northcote Primary School was again a recipient of the Rotary Clubs’ Computers in Primary School project.

Mr Robertson said the project had been evolving for eight years because there was a need in the local community for it.

Northcote Primary School was its first recipient in 2016.

"With that success we have since opened up the opportunity to other Belfast and Kaiapoi primary schools who have also benefited, having had little or no IT learning experience due to lack of resources," he said.

Schools can apply for grant assistance annually.

"Our relationship with the schools we work alongside is to provide every child the opportunity to reach their potential by quashing the road blocks, so every student has a fair play ground of resources.

Grants sought from the club are diverse and range from uniforms to computers.

"We work by identifying what each school actually needs. It is kids first," Mr Robertson said.

The club can also work alongside schools helping with mentoring pupils, remedial programmes as well as breakfast club programmes.

The Waimakariri Sailing Club, the Spencer Park Surf Life Saving Club, the Belfast and Kaiapoi rugby clubs, netball and the Belfast Summer Touch Rugby have also benefited from Rotary grants.

The Rotary Club also holds an annual Local Business Supporting Children’s Sport Appeal, inviting business sponsorship for individuals and club teams, so all children can participate in community sports.

By Marissa Stephen


Rural Conversations - ‘What steps are you taking to stay competitive and resilient in the face of domestic and global challenges’