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Our 2014 Bowater Toyota EcoFund winners are helping families achieve sustainability through their kids at school

edible gardens in schoolsThis years winners of the Bowater Toyota EcoFund are setting up our kids for the future by creating edible gardens in schools. Click to enlarge.

Sometimes thinking too much about the world we live in can be a little depressing, or extremely motivating if you are wired in more of a positive mode.

We are living in times of great change. Times where we see skills of old slowly fade away as we edge ever closer to the model of a disposable society as pressures on time and family compound and it becomes easier to make the lazy, quick choice for the sake of reducing stress. A world where eating all of the wrong things is an increasingly easy choice to make, and a world where childhood obesity is on the rise. Our diets are suffering, but most dramatically, the health of our future generations is suffering through an increase in screen time of our kids and a dramatic decrease in outside time. A time where there is an ever increasing disconnect between the food we eat and the effect it has on our bodies.  

This years Bowater Toyota EcoFund winners are setting about bringing positive change into this equation. They are all about empowerment. They are a breath of fresh air and a bunch of people looking to effect great change from the grassroots up - quite literally!

There is a beautiful saying that is never more true in our busy lives today.

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. 

The same can also be said for gardening. In some regards even more so as it is a skill that runs through so many elements of one's life. The skills of nurturing, care and follow through. The creation of a sense of awareness and interconnectedness that children especially seem to respond instantly to. These were once vital skills that every family handed down in some way or another as almost every family had a vegetable garden that produced at least a portion of their food, and created resources for preserves and other homemade delicacies. 

This year the team at the Bowater Toyota EcoFund were especially pleased to be able to present a donation of $2000 to the NEC KEGS Programme. The NEC (Nelson Environment Centre) is a charitable, not for profit, incorporated society that first started back in 1976 and is now the longest serving environment centre in New Zealand. 

The management team from NECThe management team from NEC. Karen Driver, Sarah Langi, & Jonathan Tomlinson. Click to enlarge.

The society operates in Nelson and Tasman from two sites:education programmes, workshops, consultancy services and overall administration are run from the premises at Braemar Eco Village in Braemar Place, where they also run their eco garden. The reuse and recycling operations operate from two shop premises in Tahunanui, one at the entrance, and the other within the Nelson Transfer Station. Most of their activity however happens behind the scenes and they are part of a larger scale education project in an effort to make a sizable impact on the way "we" collectively do things. 

Kids Edible Gardens in Schools (K.E.G.S); Recipients of our 2014 Bowater Toyota EcoFund.

The Kids Edible Gardens in Schools (KEGS) education programme is designed to get children growing and eating healthy food whilst learning about horticulture through fun based projects. Currently NEC have 4 schools participating in the programme - Hampden Street, Auckland Point, Victory School and Nelson Intermediate. The whole concept of encouraging children to have a hands on garden experience that helped them create a working organic food producing garden right there in their school - proving to one and all that you can have a helathy and productive garden anywhere!

Part of the programme is to show the students the cyclical system of managing a garden and the forethought that needs to go into it all, with time spent building compost systems to deal with the food scraps they collect from lunchtime waste that now goes into dedicated food waste bins. It is also encouraging students to make healthy eating choices, and enjoying the communal eating of the fruits of their collective labour.

It was this combination of two really important aspects that attracted us to support the programme - future thinking with the teaching of the children to set up life skills they may not ordinarily be exposed to, and current, immediate benefits of supporting the schools in a food waste reuse programme that also encourages students to think about their personal waste footprints from an early age. 

This combination of current and future planning is what we see as the ideal way forward, with incentives built into the transition. With the KEGS programme the children that participate get to feel the warm glow of self awareness, praise and admiration when they get share the reward of food they have personally grown with the other pupils. It is quite an honourable moment by all accounts. The excess of this then goes home to identified families in need in some cases within some of the schools.   

The Toyota Yaris - an eco alternativeThe Toyota Yaris - an eco alternative for those looking for compact city use, and great fuel efficiency at a great entry level price. Click to enlarge.

We will follow the great work the NEC team achieve with this extra boost in funding of this KEGS programme, and visit some of the schools during the year to see the impacts our Bowater Toyota EcoFund has had directly.   

If you are interested in learning more about NEC please click here to go to their website:

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