News and Events

Limehills School Legends - 11 September

Friday morning was spent learning alongside a switched on and enthusiastic group from Limehills School. The students that visited have various roles back at school from planting and possum pest control - legends! Their visit focused on identification of New Zealand native plants and what kind of conditions each likes to live in. Looking closely at leaves, crushing leaves (the lemonwood was nice, whereas they didn’t like the stinkwood odour!), using bark and flowers to identify species were all used as we walked around in the pond restoration plantings and remnant bush. Acute observation skills were in play as differences between these two habitats were noticed and discussed. Signage around the tracks and nursery were looked at showing the different information that can be displayed about a plant, such as their different names (Te Reo Māori, common and scientific names). A look at the nursery plant propagation – seeds and cuttings – and potting up of last season’s manuka was followed by an impromptu play in the education centre using the tree and NZ native birds. I look forward to hearing and even seeing what Limehills School does next at their place.


Education Outreach to Schools

With Covid and alert levels restrictions to keep us all safe, education at the Southland Community Nursery has looked different. While small groups are still visiting we are rescheduling large school group visits, awaiting alert level 1. In the meantime I have also been visiting schools.

At Rimu School on the 19 August, without being able to experience first-hand the pond at the Southland Community Nursery along with its wetland plantings, we learnt about plants to plant around a wetland! With another group of students I got to see the area they have developed following their last visit to the Education Centre and work on native plant identification. It was great to see the areas Rimu School are developing at their place.

At the Senior campus of JHC on the 24 August hands on learning continued with the sowing of NZ native plant seeds. If you want to try this yourself – check out the “School Nature Challenge: Growing Native Plants from Seed” at The JHC group also learnt about taking cuttings of NZ native plants (and the time of year that is best to do this). This lesson on plant cuttings was successfully trialled using a newly created education kit for cuttings.

A SIT initiative with high school students continued on 4 September with a visit of this group to the Nursery for them to see all that we do – from plant propagation, wetland creation, to education.

On 25 August Chris and I visited Myross Bush School, discussing future planting plans with their Principal. This was followed up with a day long visit to school on 7 September with every student learning something new about the special kahikatea tree.

All term 3 I have been supporting the JHC Junior Campus sport and recreation Young Environment Squad (YES) group – more on this in a later story. I have also been making links with people and agencies on future education opportunities and events.

Connecting people with nature continues. I have had fun, been inspired, and seen action for the environment in schools as a result of this education outreach opportunity.


What’s happening at different Covid alert levels at the Nursery

At level 2 the Southland Community Nursery is closed to large groups of visitors (including schools). We will open for small groups of 10 - please book below. While the education centre is closed, our educator can come and visit you and your class at school, if your school requirements allow this. Contact tracing, physical distancing rules, hand hygiene etc will be followed. To ensure group size restrictions are met please use the emails below for any proposed visits, plant purchases or workshops.

At level 1 the Southland Community Nursery is open to all visitors (Friday volunteer mornings, school visits and plant purchases).

Please follow this process prior to your visit to the Southland Community Nursery (at alert levels 1 and 2):

  • Visitors to the Nursery by prior arrangement only please. Email Chris at Enable JavaScript to view protected content.
  • For schools wanting to visit, arrange with Bronwyn at Enable JavaScript to view protected content.
  • Please stay away if unwell, or if you have been unwell in the last 48 hours prior to the nursery visit.
  • Upon arrival, please use hand sanitiser provided
  • A QR code is displayed – please use the contact tracer app. Or alternatively sign in and out of the nursery session – using the sign in sheet in doorway of education centre. Please include your name, contact phone number and email address. For schools visiting, one contact person shall sign in and keep attendance records of students.
  • Hand washing facilities are to be used. Remember to wash your hands for 2 minutes before you eat, or use the hand sanitiser provided.
  • Bring your own gloves (if possible), food and drink, including a cup or mug
  • Please advise us if you become unwell after visiting the nursery.

Thank you.

Engaging in Citizen Science 12 August 2020

Ben (Sustainable Coastlines, Litter Intelligence Programme) and Aless (mm2 Marine Studies University of Otago) shared their passion and knowledge with those wanting to learn more about the Litter Intelligence Education Programme and Marine Metre Squared – 2 wonderful citizen science programmes that schools can get involved in. Theory and learning about the programmes was balanced with hands on opportunities – carrying out a litter survey and audit at nearby Oreti Beach, and undertaking a mock mm2 survey! Lots of connections made and fun had.


Kōwhai Class learning to sow kōwhai seeds – 11 August 2020

The new entrant class at Otatara School visited today to learn how to sow kōwhai seeds. First the students told me all they know about the kōwhai tree and how to identify it. They told me about a kōwhai tree that they walk past on the way to assembly, saying hello to it – it hasn’t talked back to them! Lining up in buddies, like the leaves on the kōwhai stem we went into the education centre. We started by looking at seed pods and taking the yellow coloured seeds out. We talked about the magic of seeds and how it has everything for a kōwhai tree to grow from, with the roots growing down into the soil and the shoots growing up. I talked about how I had soaked the seeds in boiling water overnight ready to sow them today. We then put some soil in a tray, levelled it out using a block, sprinkled our soaked seeds over and then covered the seeds in gravel. The class knew all about what plants need to grow – water, sun and soil, and asked some great inquisitive questions. It was great to have this group learning about their classroom plant.