Pumpkin Club: growing young minds

Issue: Volume 95, Number 11

Posted: 20 June 2016
Reference #: 1H9d2W

‘If you’re growing outside, you’re growing inside’ is the motto of a Hamilton primary school’s gardening club.

Children at one of New Zealand’s only school pumpkin clubs are reaping the rewards of their harvest, both in mind and body.

Hamilton’s Southwell School Pumpkin Club is now in its third year and last month’s harvest was as big, orange, and delicious as ever.

School chef Gareth Lusty, who started the unique club along with technology teacher Kerry Williams, says the green-fingered students learn a lot by being in the club.

The 26 students gather together throughout the growing season to grow their produce and examine their results. Students set personal bests for the size of their pumpkins and they try to beat them.

“The children get a lot of joy and excitement out of growing their pumpkins and a great sense of belonging from being in the club,” says Gareth. “There are now 26 students in the club and they are all learning that if you work hard then you will get there – it’s a great lesson for the kids."

“We teach the students that when the pumpkins don’t grow or they die it isn’t a failure,” he says. “We look at what we’ve learnt and how we can do it better next year. It’s all about commitment and learning new things.”

The motto for the club is ‘If you’re growing outside, you’re growing inside’.

Gareth says some of the children in the Pumpkin Club have not had the opportunity to grow their own vegetables in the past, so it is a great introduction to gardening and a fun way to learn.

“A highlight of the season is when the students take their pumpkins to the pumpkin carnival.”

Hamilton’s Great Pumpkin Carnival is an annual event that sees people from throughout the country get together to celebrate pumpkins.

A participant from last year’s event currently holds the record for the Southern Hemisphere’s heaviest pumpkin, which weighed in at a whopping 754.5kg, that’s more than seven Richie McCaws!

The record holder may have to face some competition from the Southwell School Pumpkin Club in the years to come. The record for the club’s biggest pumpkin is 130kg and the top pumpkin from this year’s harvest weighed in at 74kg.

Southwell School Pumpkin Club would like to see other schools take up the challenge of starting their own pumpkin clubs.

“It opens up so many opportunities for kids, they will love it,” says Gareth.

More information about starting a Pumpkin Club like the one at Southwell School can be found on the Pumpkin Club's Facebook page(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 11:31 pm, 20 June 2016

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