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Last modified: 29 Jul 2020 10:40am

Three blonde children stand in a line holding out seed packets next to a large plastic container filled with earthWeedons Primary School enviro teacher April Fitzjohn has been inspiring her students to green fingered efforts through the lockdown.

Inspired by Mrs Fitzjohn’s weekly ideas 19 of her pupils have been getting their hands dirty completing a range of outdoor challenges over lockdown.

Some have been helping their parents with watering, weeding, moving plants and trimming bushes and hedges. Others have been making beeswax wraps to use instead of plastic wrap and eco bricks made from stuffing bottles with used soft plastic waste.

Planting is also popular for families like the Smolenski family, Lachie, Jonty and Ruby. “We replanted strawberries, planted parsley and daffodils, did weeding, trimmed trees, put lots of pea straw down and even did renovations on our tree hut,” Lachie said.

The Tresize brothers have also been busy, establishing a bird and bee friendly garden, mowing the lawn and becoming self-sufficient sourcing food from their garden. “Mum let us choose our own fruit tree each to care for from a plant nursery. I chose a red apple and Cooper chose a green apple tree. We also grow our own veggies from seeds,” Nic Tresize said.

By doing these activities, Mrs Fitzjohn says students have earned ‘ticks’ towards an ‘Enviro badge’ normally gained during enviro club meetings. "It's been fantastic seeing so many Weedons students and their siblings doing a multitude of outdoors and environmental activities during the lovely lockdown weather!”

Grey haired woman in gumboots and a black gilet bent over scratching a pigs belly and a stroking a sheep

As part of our series on how Selwyn residents are spending their days in isolation, Mrs Fitzjohn also shares about her lockdown diary, inspiring pupils and spending lots of time in her garden:

When lockdown was first mooted, I thought, “Great, I’ll spend more time in the garden.” The first day was sunny and all went according to plan; then we had four wet days on the trot… I remember because on the second day of lockdown I decided to keep a daily diary.

The diary logs my gardening, books read, new recipes tried, other news and all the ‘funnies’ circulating the internet. Undoubtedly, we’ll look back one day and wonder if this really happened.

My day starts about 7.30am feeding my chickens and kunekune pig, watering plants and walking Murphy, our dog. Over breakfast, I catch up on news and emails.

As my school’s enviro teacher, I try to post outdoor challenges and ideas every few days. One project of my own has been harvesting vegetables and wondering what to do with nasturtium leaves. After several tests and trials I found a recipe for nasturtium pesto and I now have oodles of it in my freezer.

Another has been working on a seven foot high ‘hugelkultur’ [a type of raised garden bed] — an excellent place to plant potatoes or pumpkins.

I should do some weeding but there’s always something more appealing to do, chat to the fantails, cuddle the lamb and give the pig a good belly scratch!

Every few days we take Murphy to a local track for a walk and enjoy the view of the Southern Alps — we are lucky living in New Zealand.

Zoom has become a way to socialise — Saturday nights are games with friends and no one knows if you have your pyjama bottoms on! And on weekday nights, thank heavens for Netflix!