Coming to fruition after three years’ planning is an orchard at Wanaka Primary School.

Teacher Sharon Pendlebury said the orchard would allow pupils of different ages to work together.

The idea for the orchard developed in 2016 after Mrs Pendlebury was selected to be one of the teachers on The Royal Society of New Zealand’s science teaching leadership programme, spending time with scientists at The New Zealand Institute of Plant and Food Research in Clyde.

She shared her experience with her pupils and discussed ‘‘how cool it would be if we had an orchard at the school’’.

Plant and Food Research plant breeder Arlene Nixon helped select a suitable site at the school, Mrs Pendlebury said.

‘‘We’ve just planted 12 initially, and we are hoping if it all goes well there is room to plant some more.’’

Funding from the Central Lakes Trust as well as the school board helped with the project’s costs.

As well as planting trees, pupils were able see how they grew, and learn some of the challenges of horticulture, including irrigation and pest control.

The orchard included apple, plum, peach, apricot and pear trees, Mrs Pendlebury said.

Year 5 and 6 teacher Markus Hermann said the orchard was an opportunity to learn environmental science.

As well as the orchard, a hillside of natives had been planted, based on the aims of the pupils.

Once they had committed to the idea, it became a maths project for the pupils.

‘‘The first step was we measured the hill, not only the perimeter but also the area,’’ he said.

The pupils used different measuring methods including a trundle wheel, measuring tape and metre rulers.

Then a team of local surveyors from Paterson Pitts Group was invited to show how global positioning systems could be used to create accurate measurements.

The resulting map enabled pupils to decide how to develop the hill, Mr Hermann said.

Mrs Pendlebury said the hillside was tucked behind the school and was a ‘‘space for mindfulness’’.

‘‘Somewhere where they can quietly sit and read’’.

One of the benefits of the orchard was that year 5 and 6 pupils could connect with year 1 pupils, incorporating the traditional Maori concept of tuakana-teina, older children helping younger children learn.

The pupils who originally planned the site three years ago were now at Mount Aspiring College, so Mrs Pendlebury was hoping to invite them back to see how the idea had blossomed.

‘‘The whole idea really came from them.’’


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