Children key to success of community pantry

Max Evans, 4, and Luna-Rose Wech, 4, are among those charged with looking after the Learning Adventures pantry.

Children’s diligence in gardening and collecting eggs from free range chooks at the Learning Adventures preschool in Campbell Drive, Warkworth, has prompted the establishment of a community pantry.

The pantry invites locals to take eggs and garden produce that they may want for free.

At the same time, pantry users are encouraged to drop off surplus produce they may be growing in their own gardens for others to enjoy.

The idea for the pantry came after Learning Adventures was producing more eggs than it could use.

Parents were invited to take eggs home when they picked up their children. They in turn brought their own produce to share.

This month, it was decided to set the pantry outside the preschool for the wider community to enjoy.

Children attending the preschool are tasked with checking on the pantry each day to make sure it is full and ensuring the produce, some of which they have helped grow, is fresh. In addition to gardening, children are also involved in composting and looking after the preschool worm farm.

Learning Adventures head teacher Nicola Bowyer says the pantry fits with the emphasis on sustainability at the school by ensuring surplus produce does not go to waste.

Parent Leah Husselmann describes the pantry as a “neat idea”. Not only can she now get eggs for free, it also saves her the bother of going to the supermarket.

Once she has her own garden established, she plans on paying the favour forward by donating parsley and other herbs that she grows.

Preschool centre manager Michelle Wewege says the pantry has plenty of benefits for children.

“This is teaching them responsibility and kindness, and is a wonderful way to empower them to help others and share,” she says.

Meanwhile, community free stalls for sharing excess food and produce are becoming increasingly popular throughout the region, with more opening in recent weeks.

One at Kaipara Flats School is also the result of involving children in growing their own food.

School caretaker Odette Wech and her father George have built a community sharing stand outside the school as part of its Garden to Table initiative (Mahurangi Matters Nov 14).

School principal Debbie Hamer says the stand is for everybody and anybody to use.

“Odette has taken our Garden to Table initiative into our community and has brought the community to our school,” she says.

“We’re so grateful for this response.”

The Kaipara Flats Sharing Stand was built by George Wech with materials donated by Warkworth ITM.

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