It is also an endeavour that offers many lessons, and so it was for an enterprising quintet of year 12 students – Charla Stretch, Ayush Menon, Brooklyn Tukaki, Bree Williams-Healey and Damian Temana – from Tokoroa High School in south Waikato.
Inspired by the obvious need for food access and food security during New Zealand’s first level 4 lockdown last year, they came up with the idea of portable organic gardens to make vegetable growing accessible for everyone – including those with limited mobility or limited space.
“Our portable bed provides a convenient and cost-effective way to access your own fresh produce within your own home,” says Stretch, the CEO of Vitanic, the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) company they set up, mentored by business studies teacher Sanjeena Chandra.
Their challenge, Stretch explains, was to create a business that would express their shared values of healthy living, kaitiakitanga and sustainability – values, they believe, that would help them “help our planet”.
Their brainstorming, tapping into their individual interests and talents which include building skills and backyard gardening, eventually led them to develop these easy-to-move garden beds made out of recycled school desks.
“With our product, we have come up with many ways that we could benefit the community,” Stretch explains. “Every year, New Zealanders send around 2.5 million tonnes of waste to landfill so we decided that we would try to recycle as many things as we could. There are so many desks in schools that will never be used again so we chose to put them to good use and make a whole new product out of them.
“Also, since New Zealand students now get free lunches in school, there are a lot of food scraps getting thrown away as waste. This is also a problem we could solve by collecting the scraps and composting it to put into our gardens.”
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