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The opportunity to apply for an Earthwise funding grant in 2022 resulted in a brainstorm session with the students as to what projects around the school could best be supported by a grant. A tunnel house was an idea from the students to increase the sustainability of our grounds. The school had received many plant donations from different places over the past 4 – 6 years and students wondered how they could grow their own.

In our local area, a small farming settlement in Central Otago, there is a lot of re-planting/ restoration happening on farms and along water ways. Students had noticed these changes on their travels and so thought about ways in which they could have a positive impact towards these actions. Growing native plants from seed in a nursery style would provide the opportunity for locals to be supplied with seedlings by the school and also provide students with knowledge for any future initiatives.

Students worked with Lucy Francke, our facilitator from Enviroschools to explore their current school and community environment. This mapping and discussion led into more learning about how we could develop our own grounds and support our community to develop their grounds.

From here we shared with the students that, after receiving Earthwise Action Funding, a tunnel house had been purchased from Morrifields to help us develop the ability to create a native plant nursery as well as supporting better growing conditions in cold months for seedlings for our own gardens. This would be helping students develop their knowledge and skills of the plant growing process with more ease.

Our groundsman, a horticulturist, provided guidance on the best location for the tunnel house. We took into account the sunshine hours, the ease of transporting plants between tunnel house and outside and also other garden locations.

With this information and mapping, students selected the site, that was most suitable for good growing conditions, for the tunnel house and worked alongside the groundsman to position it.

Locals have donated the resources required to ensure the tunnel house was built on good foundations. Using paving slabs inside meant the area would remain clear of weeds and other dirt for planting.

“It has been wonderful working with the Tarras students as they are very engaged with their environment and are excited about their plans.” – Lucy Francke, Enviroschools Facilitator