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Sunflower plantings to brighten community gardens

December 19th, 2011
[by David Armstrong]

A small but enthusiastic group of children and parents planted about 60 sunflower seedlings at the Motueka community gardens yesterday as part of a New Zealand-wide sunflower project.

Project Sunshine Aotearoa has provided sunflower seeds and seedlings throughout New Zealand towns and communities, aiming to encourage children in particular to make their community more beautiful. The seeds provided to Motueka were nurtured by local gardening expert Grant Douglas and provided to the Community Gardens Trust for a promotional and awareness day, and to brighten the gardens' perimeter.

Twice cancelled over the past two weeks due to rain, the planting finally took place in warm sunshine, with Grant showing the children how to plant and feed seedlings. The children then enjoyed some games and took home some prizes.

The gardens' chairperson, Tara Forde, created the event with two purposes in mind: to raise awareness among children of the beauty of garden flowers and beautifying the town, and to further develop the community gardens in Old Wharf Road into a place for families to go, enjoy the environment and perhaps help with some weeding and tending to vegetables. The sunflower plants when fully grown should make the garden plots a bit of an attraction for tourists and residents.

Project Sunshine Aotearoa began at the Great Start Taita children's gardening club in Wellington. In 2010 the club planted hundreds of sunflower seedlings through the streets of Taita to make their community more beautiful. The organisers noticed how the sunflowers generated pride and joy. The project also supported residents to build connections with each other and with their physical environment.

As the children learned about sunflowers they also learned about the importance of bees, and their current plight. They realised that sunflower planting could help other children to make their communities beautiful, build connections between people and also ensure the survival of the bee population.

Project Sunshine is a gift from the children of Taita to all children of Aotearoa New Zealand. The project started this off by giving UN youth delegates a "Project Sunshine Pack" containing contain information about the initiative, facts on bees and sunflowers, a guide to growing a project in communities, and two packets of sunflower seeds.

Each pack in the first distribution contained Taita's first harvested seeds, and the organisers' hope is that every community that takes up the Project will in turn share their seeds.

Here are some photos taken at the Motueka planting day, with Niamh Pelling, Charley and Abbey Markham and Rozemarijn Laarakker among those snapped.



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